Instagram and Obsessive Polling Disorder

Posted by Christie Szymanowski | Dec 11, 2017 | Anxiety, Fake News, News, Social Media Anxiety Disorder of the Week | 0 |

When Instagram added a polling option to its most recent update, users were thrilled to find out that they could vote on questions their followers posed. After all, who doesn’t love a good anonymous poll? The rush of clicking “yes” or “no.” The anticipation of waiting to see if you have the majority opinion as the results page loads. And, best of all, the ability to forget you even took said poll five minutes later.

Because internet polls are supposed to be anonymous… right? 

Instagram doesn’t think so. As soon as users began to figure out that their votes were visible – with their usernames – to the person who posted the poll, they began expressing their anxiety on other forms of social media.

“I can’t believe I voted ‘no’ when my friend asked if her Chihuahua was cute or not!” Collette Irwin said in an interview. “I don’t know if she’s aware she can actually see the votes, but if she ever finds out, I’m screwed.”

People are having a particularly difficult time dealing with this social media anxiety disorder because Instagram is mainly used to upload pictures, not apologize. Instead, most Instagram users ended up on other platforms, especially Twitter, to let out their feelings.

“I’m sorry for what I said when I thought IG polls were anonymous,” Zach Dunn wrote on Twitter. He’s since deleted his Instagram account, hoping that if he erases his footprint from the platform, no one will be able to see the results of over 500 polls he took since they launched the new feature. “It’s a disease. Once you take one poll, you have to take another, and another, and another.”

Brandy Winthrope, an Instagram user with over 12,000 followers, posted a pouty picture of herself holding up a sign that read, “Sorry.” 

She captioned the post, “I’m sorry if I voted that your cat looked fat, or that your boyfriend really needed to get that weird mole on his neck looked at.” She claims to have taken hundreds of polls as well.

Social media analyst Gail Snider said that Obsessive Polling Disorder is a particularly unique and multi-faceted social media anxiety disorder that is likely to affect the Instagram community for years to come.

“Obviously, Instagram is a platform that’s used to showcase your best moments. It’s very ‘me-oriented.’ But at the same time, people love the anonymity of the internet. If they have a chance to be shady as fuck and give their opinion on what they’re really thinking, they’re going to do it.”

She said now that the veil’s been lifted, people are going to have anxiety about them in a different way. “They’ll wonder, ‘Should I be honest and vote what I really think? Should I just ignore the poll? Do I lie and make my friend feel better? Of course, if the anxiety becomes too much and people simply stop using the polls, that’ll get rid of the problem altogether.”

This post was created with the help of Grammarly.

Photo Image: Rachel H

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