As the digital clock ticks past this millennia, it ascertains our increasing reliance on the smartphone at extents greater than what we had previously fathomed. A gadget that is inching closer to impersonating our shadow, the smartphone goes with us everywhere. We are compulsively attached to it, whether we are actively communicating or not. The newest reflex that urban mankind is rapidly attuning itself to is the scrolling of social media newsfeeds with our dominant thumbs. Accompanying this is our instinctual urge to share snippets of our daily ongoings through social media posts, or the newly-trending stories that have jointly invaded multiple apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
The all-pervasive nature of these social media apps has let to several skeptics questioning the consequences borne by their excessive usage on the collective psyches of mankind in general. The typical social media user might be habituated to the occasional posts that warn users against the ill-effects of of contemporary digitalisation and technology when it comes to rising psychological disorders such as attention deficits, depression, anxiety and an overall decline of sleep quality, to name but a few. The content saturation and partially staged nature of ‘filtered’ social media posts have also been attributed to setting unrealistic expectations, feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem for users who feel compelled to constantly compare their lives to those portrayed by others on their social media news feed. Hence, this unending altercation between one person’s narcissism and self-distortion images with another person’s alienation operates at levels so subliminal that harsher critiques tout the social media phenomenon as a digital epidemic to which each one of us falls victim. Those with a view of lesser-pessimism would dismiss this stance as an overreaction what they merely perceive as a prevailing wave of pop-culture that is bound to change and evolve as time goes by.
Whatever one’s stance towards the rising omnipresence of social media in today’s world, it would be safe to say that a ‘digital detox’, the decision to outrightly refrain from using social media is not only impractical but also unfeasible and regressive. Sure, digital algorithms do pose the threat of quenching onto a cyborg-fashioned dominance that is too commanding for our own good, but that should seem threatening lest we remind ourselves of the eventual choice that we possess over the role that we wish to grant to social media. This choice, albeit a complex one, implies in the retention of absolute power in determining the extent to which we wish to surrender our sensibilities to digitalisation. In other words, bearing the technological power of enhances networking and instantaneous communication, we retain the crucial choice of the scope and nature of these phenomenons on our lives. Moreover, for the consequences that this choice bears on our inherent sub-conscience, it becomes more imperative than ever to actively reflect upon the amount of liberty we give to our respective social media handles, in terms of both, the input as well as the output.
The former is fairly simple, since our social media input operates at an individual level in terms of what we choose to post and the periodicity thereof. Our conscious participation at this level is intimately tied with the assumption of responsibility and consideration vis-a-vis our fellow-social media users. So, for instance, one would actively share content that they deem beneficial or positively entertaining for their contemporaries, instead of delving into an endless spiral of distorted self-imagery that births the ‘compare and despair attitude’.
This question of responsible self-restraint becomes slightly more complicated when applied to the output level, because this has more to do with an external filtration of whom one chooses to befriend or follow. A popular statement by Jim Rohn points to us being the sum average of the five people that we spend the most time with. Now picture adding to this the fact that the average millennial spends approximately 21 hours a week on social media, and this number is on a steady rise. Our active and passive communication across social media forums is deeply formative of our intelligence and psyche and therefore, a more controlled selection of whose lives we choose to liaison with would result in a more enriched commune and quality of digital living. In simpler words, exercising our conscious will over the bifurcated choices of input and output selection amounts to what several people have begun to call ‘safe social media usage’. Hence, in purposefully dispensing our agencies in the strategic determination and reclamation of our online spaces, we are sure to minimise if not avoid the ill-effects of the social media age, and to emerge as its eventual benefactors.
For those wondering why this article is so outrightly partial to Instagram in particular, the primary reason for its spotlighting is the outright status that Instagram enjoys as the social media zeitgeist. In terms of content, it stops itself short of demanding the familiarities of Facebook and Snapchat and yet, its pictorial predominance rescues it from the obscurity that its contemporaries have begun to suffer. Moreover, its timely expansion into the triplicate of posts, stories and messages have effectively enhanced its scope as a preferred mode of communication amongst the millennial generation in a way that is convenient as well as candid.
The effortlessness enjoyed by Instagram users in staying updated on one another’s lives, tagging one-another on popular memes and initiating spontaneous conversational exchange gains further popularity due to the exemption that Instagram renders on codes of mutual following, unlike the cases of Facebook and Snapchat, for example. Furthermore, Instagram’s message settings, reporting system and blocking options cater to user privacy in a relatively effective manner. Further, the mute and hide options available to all users vis-a-vis one another provide an added safeguard to customise the scope of user interrelations on the forum, further enhancing the possibility of following a diverse nature of users, ranging from personal circles, acquaintances, celebrities, popular icons, brands and more.
Instagram’s success as a superior social media platform can be elementarily illustrated by its newest stats, which show that there are currently more than 800 million monthly active users, which are likely to reach the figure of a billion by the end of this year. For the record, this numeric is more than double the amount of monthly users on Twitter and over three times the number of WhatsApp and Facebook messenger users. Moreover, one can only imagine the volume of content access when they learn that a staggering number of 95 million photos are shared on Instagram on a daily basis. For the average millennial who checks their phone for over half an hour over 57 times per day, a hasty scroll through their Instagram feed time and again would be the most usual of all suspects.
Combining the idea of safe social media usage with the unprecedented usage of social media dominator Instagram, Rajputana Collective proceeds to feature the 80 top Instagram accounts to follow from within the community. Through a systematised examination of the existing social media space, this short listing has taken place with the core intention of maximising beneficial social media liaisons and enhancing the overall quality of content exchange on Instagram towards a greater fulfilment for all. Mostly public in nature, it is advised to follow these featured Instagram accounts with a strict adherence to user discretion and content permission whilst maintaining the utmost sanctity of cyber ethics.