Selena Gomez’s Complex Relationship With Instagram is Very Relatable
Selena Gomez has 133 million Instagram followers, but her struggles with the social platform probably aren't that different from yours.
What’s it like to be the most followed person on Instagram? Well, turns out it’s a lot like being any other person on the social media platform.
In a new interview with 13 Reasons Why star Katherine Langford for Harper’s Bazaar, Gomez spoke candidly about her struggles with mental health and how social media plays a role. “I have a complex relationship with Instagram, to say the least,” Gomez says when asked how she draws the line between her private and public persona. The 25-year-old megastar is concerned about the value that the millennial generation places on social media: “It’s an incredible platform,” she says, “but in a lot of ways it’s given young people, myself included, a false representation of what’s important.”
And she’s absolutely right: Instagram can lend artificial ideals to its users and skew our perceptions of reality. The photos we upload often set unattainable expectations, create feelings of inadequacy and can affect our self-esteem. And this can have a major impact on our well-being: according to a recent study from the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Instagram is the worst social media platform for users’ mental health. Compared against Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, Instagram received the worst scores for body image and anxiety, with the study citing that rates of anxiety and depression have increased 70% in the past 25 years. As one survey respondent wrote, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect.’”
We know that Instagram can be harmful, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t all photoshopping, filters and vacation pics. Gomez’s says that her relationship with the photo-sharing app is complex — and likely, so is yours. Gomez recognizes the value of her presence on the platform: “It has given me a voice amid all the noise of people trying to narrate my life. It empowers me in that way because it’s my words and my voice and my truth.” The RSPH study found flaws in Instagram, but it also found that it scored points for self-expression and self-identity. Instagram, as Gomez notes, can be both a detriment and an empowering space for us to share our voices and develop our digital selves.
With a long list of pros and cons, it can be hard to negotiate your relationship with Instagram. Selena Gomez, however, may be onto a fix. A week after ringing in the New Year with her on-again boyfriend Justin Bieber, the “Wolves” singer unfollowed 279 people on Instagram, bringing her following count from 316 to just 37. We don’t exactly know why Gomez shrunk her following, but we do know that moderating the content you consume and filling your feed with positive posts is a great way to start off the new year. Our timelines are curated based on our engagement, so who and what you surround yourself with online can have a major effect on what you see and how it makes you feel.
Whether or not Gomez’s Instagram revamp is a boost to her mental psyche, things appear to be looking up for the singer. When asked if 2018 will be better than 2017, Gomez seems optimistic: “I’m okay…because I know that I’m choosing myself over anything else.” As she should — both in life, and online.