Instagram and its underrated toxicity

Personal Project



Anshul Agarwal


Understand how Instagram, the app has been churning out toxic byproducts.


// Pure introspection and secondary research from online articles, research papers and news.


There are six major aspects which Instagram profits on; Isolation, Need for validation, Fear of missing out (FOMO), Insecurity, Lack of inter-personal interaction and social anxiety. There must be more, but these six have been prominently observed by me.

  • The more insecure we feel about ourselves, the more need for validation, and hence we will keep using Instagram. We keep improving our posts maybe. The number of likes will matter to us, that is the reward experience all Instagram user thrives on.

  • FOMO or ‘Fear of missing out’ gives rise to temptation for using Instagram frequently, however when we use Instagram our FOMO can reduce temporarily, but it also intensifies our isolation by curtailing the inter-personal interactions with our friends. The intensified feeling of isolation not only causes FOMO but also makes us more tempted to go back on Instagram, further affecting our inter-personal interactions negatively. Sometimes, Instagram usage makes us feel less isolated temporarily.  

  • Excess Instagram usage not only can make us feel isolated and insecure, but also socially anxious. Increase in social anxiety can lead to yet again affect our inter-personal interactions negatively. When we try to quit Instagram, we start feeling left out and soon we get back on it.

  • There are deeper psycho-social factors that can emerge out of the above mentioned. Maybe not everyone is getting affected on this scale, maybe some factors are more prominent for you and some don’t even exist. Example, Inter-personal interactions can be subjective to the person’s ability to interact physically. But, we need to be aware and find out how to deal with these byproducts and not let them emotionally distress us. 

For many individuals quitting Instagram might not be possible as of now, but being aware of how it may be affecting you, can help you reduce its power over your emotions.