My night-time routine is pretty simple: wash my face, brush my teeth, and hunt very thoroughly through the Instagram profiles of everyone I want to shade until my thumbs hurt or I blissfully drift off to sleep (whichever comes first). Repeat every night until the day I die.
Sometimes I hate-stalk strangers, but mostly it’s people I do know but do not like (including you, girl who bullied me in middle school and now has 482 followers and lots of charcoal toothpaste). It’s like settling in with The Real Housewives: I’m free to judge—which I definitely, definitely do—what’s playing out on-screen from the comfort of my sweatpants.
“Ha! At least I am not you,” my brain says when the unfamous GF of my celeb crush uses ‘there’ instead of ‘their’. It’s the same high I get whenever Riya* suddenly makes me feel like my sh*t is allll the way together.
I double-checked with a friend that it’s not just me (which I know it’s not, but still want reassurance that I’m not the lone *sshole), and she replied: “Obviously. It’s the only fun thing to do on Instagram anymore”.
Fun *and*, it turns out, a nice juicy distraction from the world, says US-based Meghan Jablonski, PhD, clinical psychologist, and validator of nefarious scrolling. She explains that channeling your negative energy into picking over a nemesis’ IG does quickly reduce your own stress, sadness, or anxiety. And fuelling your own ego by judging others can trigger your brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, so it’s easy to form a habit.
Sadly, though, those suppressed bad feels don’t poof away forever—you’re just leaving them on read until you actually deal with them, says Meghan. So throwing out neggy vibes to score quick hits of happiness is not really a long-term solution.
But—but!—I’m still gonna take any low-stakes escapism I can get. So let’s not feel bad about indulging while also looking for better ways to channel our collective angst (see, perhaps: bubble baths, actual therapy). Or about throwing our scrolling subjects a Like or two so the algorithm wizards reward us with more of the content we can’t help but love to hate. “
It’s like settling in with The Real Housewives: I’m free to judge what’s playing out on-screen from the comfort of my sweatpants.