The photo-sharing app Instagram makes it easy to share life moments with friends, but for many college students, the perfectly filtered photographs are an attempt mask emotional distress and even cries for help.
“When I posted it, I subconsciously hoped that if I could convince others I was happy, then maybe I could believe it myself,” a former Cornell student, Jenna, told The Cut about a seemingly happy shot she posted on Instagram during her senior year.
Here’s a look at Jenna’s picture:
Jenna felt guilty about her negative feelings because she knew she was fortunate to be at Cornell, she says. “I used to say things like ‘I’m a privileged American white woman in an Ivy League institution. I don’t have a right to be unhappy.’ How could I be unhappy when I had so much?” Jenna told The Cut.
Beneath the Mayfair and Valencia Instagram filters, these students are dealing with serious problems.
“I started having panic attacks whenever I felt pressure to have fun. I had a panic attack in the middle of a set at Firefly Music Festival because I was so overwhelmed by the crowd,” a University of Pittsburgh student, Drew, told The Cut. “I posted a picture the next day like everything was fine.”
Drew started seeing a psychologist and taking anti-anxiety medication, which she says has made school a more balanced, enjoyable experience.
Not every student is able to get the same help Drew received. On the day she committed suicide, Madison Holleran, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, had promised her father she would find a therapist to see while she was at school, ESPN reported.
Holleran posted a photo on Instagram in the hours before her death. The photo, a shot of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square lit up at dusk, gave no indication of the teen’s internal distress.
While Instagram attention might feel good for a little while, it’s a poor substitute for genuine human interaction.
“Having people close to me like the photo was affirming, but it wasn’t affirming me as a person. It was affirming that my social presence was likable,” NYU student Skye told The Cut about a photo she shared via Instagram. “And though I really wanted support, it didn’t make any of my friends motivated to reach out to me.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.