Is Instagram making us unhappy?


When scrolling through Instagram on any given day, you will easily come across beautiful photos of friends or strangers, depicting themselves as if they are living their best lives. It has been widely discussed and debated online whether or not these views are realistic. Perhaps the most notable argument was that ofย Essena O’Neill, when she claimed that Instagram doesn’t depict real life. Today I would like to look at the so-called “Instagram Culture” through the eyes of Carl Rogers, a psychologist that lived long before Instagram was a speckle of anybody’s imagination.

Carl’s theory is pretty cool and easy to grasp. He believed that people have an “ideal self”, the kind of person that they wish to be, as well as a “real self”, the person that they are the very moment. ย His theory belongs to the field of humanism, which states that as people, we are inherently self-aware, and can shape our personality by constantly striving to reach our fullest potential. Thus, the more similar our ideal and our real self are, the happier and more fulfilled we become. Perhaps the best part of his theory, is that as humans we are born with free-will, and have the mind-capacity to constantly strive to be better. The broader your imagination, the more likely you’ll be to reach the good life.

So, if we were to apply Carl Rogers’ theory to today’s Instagram Culture, wouldn’t imagining ourselves in the best light possible be a positive trait? Shouldn’t it help us become better, happier, and more fulfilled people? And of course, if this is the case, why are people such as Essena O’Neill so unhappy with Instagram’s ability to distort reality?

I believe that Instagram can be an amazing tool for the mind, if used correctly. If you imagine your ideal self, and then feel motivated to push yourself to live your life in such a manner, this will allow you to get closer to happiness. Many people launch successful businesses, portray aesthetically pleasing lifestyles, and create opportunities for themselves through the photographs they post on Instagram. Using Instagram as a visual tool for self-fulfilment is something that I firmly believe in, as it has helped me become more self-confident. On the other hand, if your ideal self doesn’t match up with whatever image you are trying to portray on Instagram, which I believe is the case of Essena O’Neill, you will end up drained and unhappy.

What do you think about Carl Rogers’ theory of self? Do you think that Instagram is good or detrimental to our self-actualizing process?

I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Until next time,



  1. I appreciate this as a psychology major (well, now graduated), and someone who is not so great as social media-ing haha. I agree that IG and other social media platforms are great markers for one to set goals, so long as you keep in mind 1) whatever goals are set/whatever definition of success you are measuring against…you need to know how to make that work for YOU, 2) not to take everything at face value since there’s so much staging, photoshopping, smoothing, etc out there, and 3) have fun!

    1. I agree with this wholeheartedly! It’s just nice to appreciate social media as a platform that allows us to constantly grow. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for your comment <3


  2. I love this post and super love how you incorporated Carl Rogers into it! Instagram definitely motivates me to push myself. The person I put out on Instagram is definitely me, just perhaps a more confident version of me that I’m striving towards in reality. But I can see how Instagram can leave someone feeling miserable when the gap between reality and Insta is so big. Great post as always! xxx

  3. There is such a high expectation with Instagram right now that there must be a theme or every single photo must look perfect and I’ve had to train myself out of this mindset because it’s so unhealthy. These days I post what I want and have never been happier with my Instagram feed ๐Ÿ™‚ x x
    Ellis //

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