The dark depths of Instagram

 * Article featured in the Sociological Mail - *

The app has constructed a counterfeit universe for people to create profiles and portray themselves exactly how they desire. At first glance, it appears enticingly exemplary - although if you dig deep enough, you'll unearth an additional, notably darker world concealed within. 

Self-harm, eating disorders and mental illness - I salute you to the subsidary world of instagram. A world where users profiles and bios are of self destruct - a place for young people to vent when the world seems too much.

'4 days clean' - A term and count many include in their Instagram bio to track and share how long they've restricted from self-harming or in eating disorder terms - how long they've gone without binge eating and kept their fast.

'CW - 109lbs' equals to 'current weight - 109lbs'. 'GW - 91lbs' translates to 'goal weight - 91lbs'. Images of users ribs, stretching out of their stomachs and 'ana' (anorexic) style weight loss progress photos of users scattered down the news feed. Behind these accounts are  children. Parents are unaware of the online world that their children are being drawn into. Parents are most probably oblivious to the struggles their children are experiencing due to their teens turning to Instagram to vent and update their 'follower friends'on how they're doing, instead of communicating their struggles and confiding in their peers. 

A young girl, 14 years old posted a photo exhibiting her body in a bikini. She captioned it 'thoughts?' - in the comments section read debilitating words, shaming the young girls body. Users encouraging her distorted mind by telling her she was 'fat', she was evidently quite the opposite, and she was instructed to stop eating for a longer period of time in order to look 'perfect'.

The chew and spit technique - One technique I discovered which is used by users who claim to suffer from eating disorders. It  consists of chewing and spitting food out - chewing enough to grasp the flavour, but not swallowing to gain the 'pounds'. The ice technique - If you're hungry, suck on an ice cube. It will apparently settle your hunger pains. 

The world is blind to the treacherous use of the Instagram platform which only a diminutive fraction of the world have so far been exposed to. Mental health is a serious illness, and the way young people are utilising the Instagram platform to seek comfort, is in fact the least comforting of all. Their self-destructive actions and thoughts are encouraged by their fellow users - they need to be encouraged to opt into seeking alternative, healthy ways of finding confidence instead of confiding in an app. 


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