Whether we’re looking for outfit inspo, getting ideas for our next holiday destination, or simply spying on our ex’s sister’s best friend’s wedding, there’s no denying we’re a generation of Instagram fanatics.

We love seeing those followers go up, we love watching those likes roll in, and tbh we just love the warm fuzzy feeling of acceptance that this little app can give us. But, as much as Instagram is all #goals and endless scrolls of satisfaction, there’s also a darkside to the app that a lot of us have come to know and love.

The problem with Instagram, and similar socials, is that what we’re seeing is a very small and perfectly filtered fraction of real life. Our feeds are filled with friend’s shopping for designer goods, endless exotic getaways, and skinny models eating burgers bigger than their heads. We stare at our Instagram feed full of perfectly FaceTuned photos and seemingly candid snaps and then we look at our own profile and think “why isn't my life like that?”

According to a recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health, social media is now more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes, so it’s no wonder we’re spending more and more time fixated on our phones. The report also talked about how seeing friends who are constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while the rest of the world lives their best life.

Once we get into that ‘compare and despair’ funk, it can seem as though everyone else's lives are way better than our own, which can be a difficult feeling to shift. More importantly, it can be hard not to measure our self-worth against the likes and comments on our photos compared to others. With that thought in mind, if you haven't seen Black Mirror's Nosedive episode yet, then now might be a pretty good time to watch it. 

So what can we do to pull ourselves out of this social media self pity cycle?

It’s important to take a step back from our phones every now and again to really look at what makes us happy in life. Take some time to think about the memories in life you cherish most. What are they? Sitting around the Christmas tree as a kid in your favourite fluffy pyjamas opening that hair crimper you just had to have? Sharing a bag of sweets with your grandma on the beach the last time you got to visit her? Graduating uni with all your best pals and feeling like you could take on the world?

It’s these special, sometimes seemingly insignificant moments of our life that really matter. Not the likes, or the followers, or the number of people who watched your story.

Yes, Instagram is fun, and it’s okay to enjoy the gratification it brings us so long as we don’t become fixated on that. As social media becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, we’ve got to stay on top of the positive and negative impacts that it can have on us, both as individuals and as a society.

What’s most important to remember is that this is just an app and that the real world, and what really matters most in life, exists outside of that 6 inch screen, not within it.

Written by Jade Biggs.