Experts are saying social media and selfies are having a negative impact on mental health, particularly when it comes to filters.
We live in a time where we love to document our lives on social media.
“Social media is a huge part of my life these days. I pretty much live on my cell phones these days like most millennials do,” said Selena Viera, who has a strong social media presence.
“There’s a lot more pressure, like the way you look matters, to the captions,” said social media guru Kezhal Dashti. “I hate captions for the life of me because even that has to be perfect. In a lot of ways, social media has become exhausting.”
“Social Media is basically a treasure trove of identity construction,” said Dr. Travis Heath. “The first thing is the comparison effect right? Because, really in a lot of ways, what we’re doing when we look at someone else’s social media is that we’re looking at a highlight reel.”
Dr. Heath, a social media expert and psychologist, says people can become obsessed with how they appear, having an impact on mental health. And experts say it’s only gotten worse with the addition of selfie filters.
“Then, if you add these filters, then it becomes a highlight that’s not authentic for all intents and purposes, and the problem is that we compare ourselves to this and we look at it and we go, ‘I don’t look good enough,’” said Dr. Heath. “Perhaps, it could bring about anxiety and depression for someone who doesn’t have it. And it can make it worse for somebody who is already struggling with it.”
The issue has been coined “Snapchat dysmorphia” by cosmetic surgeons. It’s gotten to the point that 55% of plastic surgeons say they have seen patients looking to improve their appearances for selfies, according to a study done by Forbes.
Dashti says she fell into the problem of using filters.
“Yes, I was obsessed with filters. I mean, I can go right now and see half of my Instagram pictures and more of them had filters than the ones that didn’t,” said Dashti. “I had an airbrush app. I deleted that at the start of this year too, no joke, and I would use that because I would see all these bumps and pimples and be like, ‘oh my god,’ I wouldn’t want that in a picture.”
That’s something Viera is also aware of.
“So, I try not to use filters as often, just so that I can make sure I’m not representing myself in a false reality. Because you know, the people that you are following, you have an impact on them,” said Viera
“When you notice yourself on social media and seeing your friends or other members of the community with these filters on – is this good for your mental health or not good for your mental health. If it’s not good – how do you want to respond to that?” said Dr. Heath.
That’s why Dr. Heath, along with Dashti and Viera, are trying to spread the message to be more accepting of the way you look, rather than use these “beauty filters.”
“I have imperfections that use to drive me crazy,” said Dashti. “I have freckles that are on one side of my body. They drive me crazy. Those are things I use to airbrush, but now I want them to be seen. I want people to know they don’t need a filter to look pretty.”
“We should all be empowering one another and loving our flaws and loving those things that make us unique. It’s just really sad that we’re not being as confident and just portraying ourselves as we are,” said Viera.