Instagram Values

A TBH post on Instagram, an app that is widely used by teens around the world. Photo by Emma Monreal
A TBH post on Instagram, an app that is widely used by teens around the world. Photo by Emma Monreal

Instagram is one of the most commonly used social networks for teens, especially on our campus. While it is an app that centers around showcasing photography, it is often used to declare popularity and express how you “really feel” about your peers. They are popularized based on the number of comments and ‘likes’, or the way users can express fondness for any post on the app.

Many young teens have been giving a TBH, or a “to be honest” in return for a ‘like’ or a comment on one of their pictures. TBHs have become a way of getting more likes on a picture, because it allows others to find out what others think of each other, without any awkward face to face communication. While some are vague and don’t truly express how they feel, others are brutally honest and produce more of a hate speech than a good-hearted expression of feeling. This brings up the question: are teens putting all their value into a careless online post from their peers?

Especially in teen years, people’s self-esteem are more fragile and sensitive to the opinions from their peers. According to, a website dedicated to encouraging youth to make a social change, 20 percent of teens experience depression due to self-esteem issues. These insecurities carry on throughout adulthood, and can heavily impact one’s behavior and even education. Studies show that up to 70 percent of teens skip school due to a lack of confidence in their bodies. It doesn’t help when all that teens see online are labels based off of how others view their bodies.

Another way Instagram users are sharing their opinion is through “rates”. They are typically a 1-10 scale of physical features and can be extremely brutal on a teen’s self esteem. Girls hope to get a BMS, or a “broke my scale” from this digital rating, meaning that their physical attraction is greater than 10.

Though the app predominantly features youth, many companies and independent projects use Instagram as a platform to grow their businesses. Popular brands, such as Converse, GoPro and Nike continue to raise recognition, despite already being widely known brands. On the other side of the spectrum, many photographers, models, and celebrities chose Instagram to showcase their work, and keep followers updated on their personal life.

Instagram’s, originally called ‘Burbn’, main purpose was to serve as a social media platform that allowed users to check-in at locations, earn points for spending time with friends, and share photos of their meet-ups. When the app was released, it’s creator noticed that hardly anybody was using the check-in features, but loved to share pictures of them and their friends. Since October 2010, Instagram has simplified from it’s debut, and has quickly been taken over by youth. It’s a harmless thing, as long as teens know others opinions don’t make or break them.