INSTAGRAM is one of my guilty pleasures in life.
I love scrolling through pictures posted by people who are rich and famous, and the rest of us who just pretend to be.
Perhaps pleasure is the wrong word to describe my relationship with the social media site, which was this week shown to be the most damaging to young people’s mental health.
A report by the Royal Society for Public Health found Instagram users reported the highest levels of stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and body image issues. This didn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Instagram is used by influencers to sell and promote products to their masses of easily-swayed followers.
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland has issued guidelines for bloggers and digital influencers that dictate anyone paid to promote a product must say so.
But announcing you’re promoting something isn’t quite the issue here, it’s the level of BS that goes with it.
Brands are regularly rapped when they make claims in ads that they can’t back up, or for selling an unrealistic ideal.
For example, L’Oréal landed in hot water a few years ago when Eva Longoria promoted their Telescopic mascara amid complaints she was wearing fake lashes, while YSL’s were branded irresponsible for using a skinny model in a recent clothing campaign.
Kellogg’s also got rapped when they couldn’t prove their cereals clinically boosted immune systems while Red Bull faced a lawsuit over its claims it could give you wings. Yes, really.
On Instagram, however, those who are paid to do so can rave about the merits of X skincare brand, which they often say has cleared up their already-perfect skin, improved their confidence, boosted their mood and revealed to them the third secret of Fatima.
Once this is followed by either #ad, #advertisement or #sp (sponsored post) it’s considered okay.
These same influencers often live an apparently lavish lifestyle, usually involving dining in fancy restaurants and sipping cocktails in the best bars, all while wearing beautiful clothes that fit their slim — often borderline underweight — figures perfectly.
If this is what teens are hoping to emulate, it’s no wonder their confidence is taking a hit.
This week, one self-proclaimed blogger was blasted by Operation Transformation’s Dr Ciara Kelly after she told her followers about the wonders of a water diet.
This is one which involves consuming only H2O for two weeks.
Like Dr Ciara, I’m dubious about it to say the least.
From health advice to diet, clothing and general lifestyle tips, influencers are increasingly becoming the go-to point for many young people.
Many of the self-made social media ‘stars’ on it — such as Suzanna Jackson and Pippa O’Connor — offer sound and responsible advice and make good money by leveraging their influence.
I applaud them.
Unfortunately, some are less careful about what they promote and how they do it.
Announcing that something is an ad is one thing, but honesty and responsibility are also essential.
And parents need to remind their kids that the lives they see online aren’t necessarily as perfect as they look.
The Keepers is grim viewing
THE Keepers is a new documentary on Netflix that is grim yet essential viewing.
On the surface it is a gripping whodunnit about a murdered nun called Sr Cathy Cesnik, who died in Baltimore, Maryland, US, in 1969.
Many of Sr Cathy’s former students at the school she taught at believe an Irish priest called Fr Joe Maskell was responsible for her death.
They claim the nun was planning to blow the whistle on his sexual abuse of students.
Their accounts of what Maskell did to them is stomach-churning and his victims are still clearly suffering 50 years later.
The tale of the cover- up by the Catholic Church will be all too familiar to Irish viewers, who have heard sadly similar stories here over the years.
The fight for justice continues, with The Keepers refocusing police attention on the case. Sadly the answers — if they come — may prove to be too little too late.
life of Si not fun & games
SIMON Coveney’s wife’s efforts to prove that her hubby is not boring resulted in an unfortunate backfire.
Keen to show Fine Gael’s steady Eddie isn’t dull, Ruth Furney claimed the family “live life at 110 miles per hour + we do things in a day that would be perfect to do over the space of four weeks.”
Hmm, like what…?
“Once we went to a concert, the races and a wedding in one day — in two different countries.”
You can almost hear the PR racing to stop her as she prattles on about a madcap lifestyle. Apart from sounding smug, the comments make the couple appear completely out of touch with many people’s realities.
I strongly doubt this is the case, though, as I always think Simon seems empathetic and capable. I have always had a soft spot for the Cork TD’s no-nonsense attitude and would love to see him outpace Leo Varadkar in the leadership race.
That said, with racing and wedding season just around the corner, how he’d fit a spot of Taoiseaching in is anyone’s guess.
Bey pushing it over the edge
BEYONCE is a known trendsetter but I’m really hoping her recent ‘push party’ doesn’t catch on here.
Queen Bey was joined by the great and good of the celebrity world as she celebrated the impending arrival of her twins.
Kelly Rowland and Serena Williams were among the invited guests at the African-themed ‘Carter Push Party’ last weekend.
On social media, Beyonce shared many, many, many images of her henna-decorated belly, along with photos of her and hubby Jay Z — real name Shawn Carter — decked out in African attire.
While belly-baring Beyonce might look great in her headdress and henna, I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to keep a straight face if I see an Irish mama-to-be rocking the look.
Manchester attacks are beyond words
WHAT’S left to say about Manchester?
It’s sad, it’s tragic, it’s terrifying.
And it’s infuriating.
The man who carried out the atrocity was brainwashed and deluded.
Just how anyone can think that attacking a concert full of innocent kids is what their god wants is beyond comprehension.
My heart goes out to singer Ariana Grande, left, who sent a sad tweet apologising after the event.
Like everyone attending that concert, Ariana was completely blameless. I hope the authorities don’t stop until they find everyone who played a role in causing such senseless sadness.
Pippa Middleton’s wedding seemed highly choreographed
TALK about getting upstaged by the Best Man — Pippa Middleton’s wedding to James Matthews last week seemed to be choreographed in every detail.
Her family spent a fortune on the event, but all focus in the aftermath was the best man’s speech.
Justin Johannesson’s jokes sank like a lead balloon including one about James’ dog, who “comes on command”.
I just hope there was enough posh champagne to make it passable.
Liam and Cheryl kept shtum until baby entered the world
LIAM Payne and Cheryl Tweedy-Cole-Fernandez-Versini kept a relatively dignified silence as they prepared to welcome their first child into the world.
The low-key pair spent months ignoring growing speculation about Cheryl being pregnant before they eventually announced baby Bear’s birth in March.
But now, with a single to promote, Liam will not stop over-sharing about his new family.
He has been rabbiting on in recent days about Cheryl’s fears about her weight gain, the lack of sleep, how they chose Bear’s name, and which of his 1D bandmates would make the best babysitter.
Asked about the maddest thing he’s ever done, the star said: “I had a baby! That was a pretty mad bit about the year.”
And so you keep telling us over and over. Maybe silence really is golden, Liam.
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