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I'll admit I'd really bought into the idea of Instagram as the solution to Facebook, as a place where everything was sunshine and rainbows and everyone could just appreciate art and beauty without the negativity of, well, controversial opinions. I could follow beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places. I could watch and admire. It seemed, dare I say, a healthy escape.

> “You want me to say I’m influencing all these people,” he says. “But I’m the one who is really influenced by this. The way I act online is shaped by monetary incentives. If a post does well, expect to see more posts like that. If copying and pasting motivational quotes from Dale Carnegie drives engagement, I will share them all day long. I don’t care.

My opinion is different nowadays. Instagram is surely a place where exists a lot of true beauty and expression, but it's also a place full of people largely driven by societal and monetary reward, to an extent that I've come to consider unhealthy. We are being influenced, and we are influencing.

And we like that-- my social brain wants to know what society considers beautiful, it enjoys training itself on what society considers beautiful, it wants to be affirmed in the beauty of its own body. Instagram gave me exactly what I wanted. But (and I don't mean to criticize anyone here at all, considering I was and still am subject to the same pressures and influences) I don't think what I thought I wanted was healthy. I want to be happy. A constant stream of corgi videos and bikini photos and travel porn gives me little ups, but it also shapes my brain in ways I think could be damaging.

I created a new IG account when I went to Singapore & Japan this year to chronicle my journey through photos that my friends & family can see.

But between a few of them giving me “I get to live vicariously through you now” vibes, the societal pressure to follow them back even if I don’t find their feeds interesting, and the ads, it felt like the whole thing was a net-negative for me and people close to me.

I’ve gone back to just sharing my travel photos in-person.

If someone wants to find beauty they should work for a charity. There are people suffering everyday everywhere. When you help someone in need, and the happiness you both experience in the process, it is more true and beautiful than anything else. That is what's lacking from those corgi videos and bikini photos.

I guess I was thinking more of aesthetic beauty. Truly there are deeper and more lasting forms of beauty to be enjoyed in the world. But our brains are drawn persistently to images, and I don't necessarily find anything wrong with that. I just think that the overload of stimuli from social media especially Instagram can be damaging to the scope of enjoyment we could get from the real thing in real life, which would arguably be more fulfilling.

Not to mention every third or fourth post and story is now an ad.

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