How Instagram Provides Clues To Mental Health | Betches

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Your Friend Who Takes A Lot Of Selfies Might Be Depressed

By Jane Duh

Here’s something we all know: Instagram is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you’re looking at all your old selfies thinking about how pretty you are sharing memories with friends, the next you’re sent into a rage spiral because your-man-who's-not-really-your-man commented the heart eye emoji on some thot's belfie and it reminded you that you haven’t gone to the gym in three years weeks. So yeah, while the highs of a 100+ like beach pic are pretty high, the lows of a vulnerable selfie that never even hits the double digits are pretty fucking low. All of this is to say, Instagram can be depressing as fuck, and now we have the science to back that up. A new study from Harvard University (what, like it’s hard?) found that your Instagram posts hold clues to your mental health, and I'm not just talking about how we all know you're fucking depressed when you post a picture of you looking longingly out a random window and caption it with some emo song lyrics from the early 2000s. But that too.


The actual study found that people who are depressed (aka you all winter), “tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker and grayer on average than healthy people.” So basically, your grainy-ass black-and-white food pics aren’t just fucking up the flow of my feed, they’re actually revealing to the entire world (assuming your account is public) that you’re depressed.

Researches came to this very obvious stunning conclusion by identifying participants as “depressed” or “healthy” based on whether they reported having been diagnosed with depression in the past.

Side note: Who are these healthy, non-depressed people? Where do they live? What is their secret?

Researchers then “used machine-learning tools to find a pattern in the photos and to create a model predicting depression by the posts,” which is basically fancy science speak for "We taught a computer how to scroll through Instagram."

So what exactly in your posts reveals that you are depressed? Well, they found that depressed IG users tend to use “fewer filters,” which supports my strongly held belief that people who post
#nofilter selfies are seriously disturbed. When they do use a filter, they tend to use Inkwell aka the fancy Instagram way of saying black-and-white, whereas healthy people use Valencia because…IDK. I guess the greenish hue brings people joy? Unclear.

Depressed participants were also more likely to post photos of just their face, which means that someone needs to drive to Brentwood and check on Kylie Jenner ASAP. I’m seriously concerned.

One thing these researchers found that I def could have told them myself is that depressed users tend to post more frequently. I mean, fucking duh. Anyone on Earth can tell whether or not I’m going through a breakup based off my daily post rate. Two or more selfies a day and you are fully justified in sending me a “U OK?” text. (I’m most definitely not okay.)

They also found that depressed people also tend to get more comments and less likes, which is really unfortunate because, as I previously stated, there’s nothing better to get you out of a funk than a fire candid with 100+ likes. If they could find a way to turn that feeling into a pill, depression would be a thing of the past.

All in all, this study is, for lack of a better word, depressing. Mainly because all the things they said are signs of depression describe the social media use of literally every human person in my feed, including myself. That being said, I think the moral of this story is clear: Inkwell is just not an acceptable filter anymore and using Valencia is the same for your health as like, a really good cardio workout. 




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