Here’s Why You Can’t Log Off Social Media — Even When It Makes You Miserable

In TikTok’s case, that community is massive and can offer endless affirmation for those who 
are looking—or have an algorithm that will offer it up. Feel-good hashtags like “body positivity” and “acne positivity” (which boast 17.3 billion and 109.4 million views, respectively) can provide hours of support-scrolling alongside more potentially harmful content. 

Though it’s almost impossible to log off entirely, it comes down to conscious consumption and plain-old willpower to fight the pull of a scrolling stupor and stay anchored in our own realities — whether they’re the most idyllic versions or not. 

Which Platform Has the Biggest Potential for Negative Effects?

Allure asked Dr. Rieder to spend time on a few of the most popular social media platforms and weigh in on each one’s potential to negatively affect a user across these categories: self-image, encouragement of comparison, and how much anxiety it might elicit. Numerical ratings go from one (benign) to five (severe).


Self Image: 4
Comparison: 5
Anxiety: 5

“Given the rapidity in which users can view different videos, it can be very difficult to sort fact from fiction and one can easily lose track of time. Like Instagram’s, TikTok’s algorithm can lead consumers of beauty content down a dangerous spiral that perpetuates unrealistic societal standards of beauty.”


Self Image: 2
Comparison: 2
Anxiety: 3

“Overall, Twitter is one of the more benign apps, often relying on text rather than imagery to spread information. While there is clearly a mix of information and misinformation, its tendency to use the written word makes it a less visually appealing and less addictive app.”


Self Image: 5
Comparison: 5
Anxiety: 4

“Dedicated to imagery with a laundry list of filtration applications, Instagram is uniquely positioned to share [more curated] visual content that requires little cognitive input [from the] user. For beauty consumers, this means being bombarded with beautiful faces, places, and unrealistic expectations, to which they compare themselves IRL.”


Self Image: 2
Comparison: 2
Anxiety: 2

“A video platform lets creators create more in-depth content, so there are distinct advantages here in terms of capturing real-life personal narratives, helpful how-tos, and content which can more easily be identified as expert or impostor. Long-form videos are also inherently less addictive than the rapid-fire viewing of other social media apps.”