Can art and empowering celebrity influencers enhance social media?

By Maddie Thornham


There is a tendency to take drastic action to protect ourselves from the highlight-reel of Instagram, calling it quits with the app, but only for the amount of time it takes to infiltrate our mind and crawl back to us through a re-download.

Social media can contribute to a lot of harm in self-perception, comparison to other people, and pretence of our own lives. But it can also do a lot of good; this is something I wanted to highlight because we do have a high level of control over what we see on social media, we shouldn’t, therefore, torture ourselves by looking at the things that don’t help us.

Recently, a study by The Female Lead and Dr. Terri Apter called ‘Disrupting the Feed’ found that young people who follow advocates and positive influences on social media, such as Emma Watson, Greta Thunberg and Jameela Jamil, were more likely to feel empowered and inspired than before following these positive influences. This tells us something about the way we choose to interact with social media. We should be choosing to follow accounts that make us feel empowered and not indulging in a fixation over accounts that make us prone to comparison and feelings of low self-worth.

Taking images of people out of the picture completely are some Instagram art accounts that are quite mesmerising; they are good at sending across short, positive messages that are both relatable and meaningful. These Instagram artists have used their platforms in different ways: some of the messages may be based on the stimulus of worries that people have sent in; other accounts draw on personal experience and the messages that come out of that; some are more satirical and make light of the quirks and mishaps of the world; accounts may even be more focused on serious relationship advice or funny and relatable dating errors.

In this context, it seems Instagram can be used in a really productive way. People can, by scrolling past one of these art pictures, find a lot of comfort. People online may be writing or creating something wholly identifiable with the self’s experience that may before have felt isolating. Seeing our own thoughts or feelings spelt out by another is a liberating feeling and comes as a sigh of relief.

We could think about it this way: the same feelings we get from relating to a character in a book could be applied to the feelings we get when we relate to online content, such as the positive snippets posted by art accounts. When people have stories to share, even if only in bite-size chunks of a couple of sentences or through pictures and drawings, we are tapping into both their experience and how we relate to ourselves too; the awareness generated by relating to someone else’s experience means we understand our own as well.

If I were to recommend a few, but by no means is this an exhaustive list of the accounts I think spread good messages: @bymariandrew, @vivalavulvacasting, @lianafinck, @morganharpernichols, @willmcphail4

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