“Just as we teach our children how to ride a bike, we need to teach them how to navigate social media and make the right moves that will help them. The physical world is similar to the virtual world in many cases. It’s about being aware.”
– Amy Jo Martin, Author
What is jkomments?
jkomments is an instagram account sharing the illustrations of Jacob Komesaroff. The account is devoted to raising awareness and making change towards creating equal opportunity and choice for all individuals. In speaking with Jacob, he reflected that he aims to share his “thoughts, comments, and hand-drawn illustrations addressing social issues and current affairs”. jkomments includes many illustrations addressing key issues found in the mental health space including societal pressures leading to eating disorders, masculinity stereotypes undermining the importance of male vulnerability, problematic beliefs held by society allowing for abuse and trauma, and the challenges of help-seeking to name a few.
Why is jkomments important?
Try this: type the words “Instagram” and “mental health” into google. See what your search returns…
If your search results are anything like mine, you will see that the top 9 results promote articles identifying the link between Instagram and poor mental health. Articles from TIME, CNN and The Huffington Post all identify that Instagram has been ranked the worst social media outlet for mental health! And – they make a point… the curated photos and the focus on image can certainly have negative effects on mental health. An image focus can prompt us to place more emphasis on our own superficial image, on the way we compare with others, on what our lives lack in comparison to other accounts we follow, and influence us to derive our self-worth from the amount of ‘likes’ we receive and ‘followers’ we have.
What these articles fail to acknowledge is that the content on Instagram (and many other social media platforms e.g. Facebook, snapchat etc) is user driven. And lets face it, user driven content on Instagram ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Currently, people will continue to post on Instagram as long as it is an available social media outlet. People will continue to scroll through images, as long as people are uploading images. It doesn’t seem as though Instagram use is slowing down, or that suggesting everyone stops using Instagram is going to be an effective way to combat mental health concerns.
This is where the importance of jkomments emerges. Instead of necessarily reducing the way we use Instagram, there is a more realistic approach – we need to be smarter in the way we use Instagram. Jacob shared that he “created this page as I believe I have a responsibility to use my privilege to do good, and assist in the elevation of those who are marginalised, ostracised, and socially isolated”. If we are to reduce the impact Instagram has on mental health, we need to filter the types of accounts we follow, and be considered in the types of images we post. Rather than ‘dissing’ Instagram itself, there needs to be a greater emphasis on considering the way we use Instagram, considering what we post on Instagram, the types of Instagram content we follow, and in turn the content we filter into our own experience. After all, we create both our own instagram experience, and the experience everyone else has with instagram. With accounts like jkomments aiming to provoke “empathy and action, provoking more compassionate, inclusive social change”, the instagram space can become a space that is mental-health-friendly for users and promotes a focus on the important change we want to see in the world.
Some special sketches…