We’re all guilty of it: scrolling through Instagram and pausing to stare at a gorgeous photo. Before you know it, you’re 28 weeks deep into Kylie Jenner’s feed, questioning how her body can appear so flawless after having a baby, while also being the boss of her own lip line, modeling, and having a full social calendar.

There is nothing wrong with falling into the endless stream of content that fills up our social media feeds each day. It can be fun, interesting, and relaxing to get mindlessly lost in a little social scrolling. However, there are hidden dangers that lurk within these polished pages that filter into our lives on a daily basis. These pitfalls of social media might persuade you to take a step back and consider the people you are following, because there’s a fine line between following beautiful people with picture-perfect lives, and actually taking these images to heart.

We hear it over and over: “Instagram isn’t real, it’s a highlight reel.” This simple mantra is easy to remember, however truly taking this phrase to heart is a bit harder. As we go about our lives, we may not even realize the subconscious ways that the images we are consuming are affecting our perceptions; what we think about ourselves as well as the people around us. You may laugh; of course, we all know the difference between reality and photos. However, when we scroll through a constant stream of dazzling “lives,” we begin to hold our own lives up to that standard, and it’s a battle.

This battle doesn’t only apply to following celebrities. Prioritizing your mental and emotional health in the social world may mean un-following your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend whose photos or Insta-stories always prick a little bit at your heart. It may mean hitting the un-follow button when you keep looking at someone’s collection of photos and feeling envious or like you simply don’t measure up for whatever reason. We often feel obligated to follow certain people if they were our friends or people we knew or still know, but you are under no obligation to follow someone whose posts are not going to have a positive effect on you. There is no selfishness in recognizing this for yourself.

Always try to check in and assess if the people you are following are truly those who make your life better, more entertaining, and more inspired, or if they may be subconsciously making you feel like you are lacking, missing out, or inadequate. There is nothing wrong with following an inspiring fitness addict who has sculpted abs to motivate your own exercise habits. But following this fitstagrammer becomes a problem when their feed stops being inspirational and rather makes you feel not good enough every time you stop scrolling to look at one of their photos.

In an age where social media has become so prevalent in our daily lives, it’s important to consider whether it has a primarily uplifting or negative influence on our mood, self-confidence, and motivation to pursue our own goals. So next time you’re scrolling through your Instagram and feel that negative spark of jealousy, sadness, or incompleteness, go ahead and hit that un-follow button, guilt-free.

COVER PHOTO: Smartphones

Katy Brosnan

About Katy Brosnan

Katy Brosnan is a junior from Reno, Nevada. She is a Communications and Psychology double major who enjoys running and going to music festivals.