On Instagram, more than 1.5 million photos have been tagged #365. People use this tag when they plan to post a photo each day of the year. Taking a daily photo and posting it to social media may improve well-being, according to a new study in the journal Health.
The study says people who post about daily practices (such as writing, photography, etc.) do so as a form of self-care. This mindful commitment may improve well-being or offer greater connection to others.
Could Photography Make People Happier?
The study followed social media users for two months. Researchers gathered data on the photos people posted and the text they added to the photos. They also recorded users’ interactions with others around the photos.
Users found posting daily photos encouraged them to be mindful. Many spent time each day seeking something interesting or unusual. Some found looking for the perfect photo encouraged them to get out of their homes. Taking daily photos helped many users feel accomplished and get more exercise.
In some cases, sharing daily photos reduced loneliness. It helped users meet people with shared interests and encouraged new friendships. Sometimes communities formed around the process of sharing photos.
Social interaction around the photos often added meaning to the activity. Captions helped users communicate narratives and memories connected to the photos. Adding text to photos cultivated more mindfulness. Comments from other photographers often gave more social meaning to the photos.
Healthy Use of Photography on Social Media
Many studies have assessed the risks and benefits of regular social media use. They have shown mixed results.
A 2016 study found social media can harm mental health in certain circumstances. Users who negatively compared themselves to others were more likely to have depression.
In 2017, a report by the Royal Society for Public Health said Instagram users were more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and bullying. Yet the report also said social media can promote community involvement and self-expression.
Another 2017 study found quitting Facebook immediately lowered people’s stress levels. Yet quitting Facebook also lowered life satisfaction.
The way a person uses social media platforms may change how they affect mental health. When daily photos are a form of self-care or friendship-building, they may improve well-being. When people use social media to dwell in envy or negativity, the effects may be harmful.
- Brewster, L., & Cox, A. M. (2018, April 7). The daily digital practice as a form of self-care: Using photography for everyday well-being. Health. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1363459318769465
- Daily photography improves wellbeing. (2018, April 30). EurekAlert. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/lu-dpi043018.php
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