INSTAGRAM: Stay Sick, But Your Phone Says You’re Blue

Aren’t some people’s Instagram feeds so very SAD?

“Foodies” and their blurry photos of ramen. Vacationers posing in front and obstructing the view of some notable monument. Parents exploiting the beauty and innocence of their offspring for LIKES. And Sunsets. Always with the fuckin’ sunsets. Very SAD!

I used to think these sad Instagrams were proof of sad Instagrammers. Not so, according the New York Times.

A new study published in something called the journal of EPJ Data Science (catchy name!) has developed machine-learning tools to find patterns in people’s Instagram posts and then predict that person’s level of melancholy.

Doesn’t that seem a very practical use for machine-learning tools? To Hell with assisting the autistic, or enhancing cyber-security. Science, you must tell us which of our social media friends is soon to step off the ledge!

“People in our sample who were depressed tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker and grayer on average than healthy people,” Harvard University postdoctoral researcher Andrew Reece told the NYT.

Let’s read on, shall we? From the NYT:

[The researchers] found that depressed participants used fewer Instagram filters, those which allow users to digitally alter a photo’s brightness and coloring before it is posted. When these users did add a filter, they tended to choose “Inkwell,” which drains a photo of its color, making it black-and-white. The healthier users tended to prefer “Valencia,” which lightens a photo’s tint.

Depressed participants were more likely to post photos containing a face. But when healthier participants did post photos with faces, theirs tended to feature more of them, on average.

So, to recap: Blue+face – filter = depressed. And: red + close up of face +Valencia filter = Jolly.

Armed with these equations, I did some research of my own, digging through my Instagram feed to gauge my level of despair. There I found the following picture, posted earlier this Summer.



The Blues. The face. This picture was screaming for a Valencia filter. Alas, I could not hear, but for the cruel demons in my head. SAD.

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