#Neverenough: Social Comparison by Young Women on Instagram
thesisposted on 05.08.2021, 16:28 by Bailey Parnell
As social media use continues to rise, studies have linked high social media use with rising levels of depression, particularly in young adults. This narrative has pervaded, yet in the research thus far, there is no general consensus as to causation or direction. What remains constant is that when mediators such as 'comparison' and 'envy' are introduced between social media use and depression, there is a negative correlation. In a qualitative study, I examine the connection between social comparison, Instagram use, and envy in young women. I conducted semi-structured interviews with a group of 10 female university students between the ages of 18-24. Interviews were analysed through qualitative descriptive analysis. Overwhelmingly, subjects engaged in frequent social comparison offline, which translated to frequent social comparison, made worse, on Instagram. As a result, participants admitted to feeling envious as well as other feelings like frustration, loneliness, anger, and overwhelm. However, users also reported positive experiences such as inspiration, humour, motivation, and happiness, when they are on Instagram. Offline affect proved to be the biggest moderators and indicators of comparison and the positive or negative experiences of the participants. This research may suggest future care in this area should focus on offline affect rather than the social networks themselves.