Amid a rise of national scrutiny of the addictive and harmful qualities of social media, Instagram reels deserves a go under the microscope. Reels consists of short videos designed to trap people in an endless scroll to an unreachable bottom. Part of what differentiates the base design of Instagram reels from that of TikTok is that the former is notoriously bad at catering to the user. I, for example, almost exclusively like videos related to cooking and baking, yet my feed cycles through fashion, fitness, nutrition, and for some unclear reason, eating disorder recovery. Arguably, since reels is horrible at customizing a feed just makes being addicted to it ten times worse. There needs to be an option to disable reels on Instagram.
A few weeks before Spring break, with the leaves rustling outside my window and the moon casting a pale glow on the foot of my bed, I was mindlessly scrolling through reels on Instagram. It was quite the pastime for me during that period, and I had grown accustomed to thoughtlessly opening the app to watch ridiculous videos. On this particular occasion, I was especially dazed. I had woken from my peaceful slumber at three in the morning and instinctively hurried over to reels. The most embarrassing part of the story is this happened twice in a row. It was at that point that I came to terms with the fact that I had a shameful addiction to Instagram reels.
My immediate response was to delete Instagram altogether, as I had done with TikTok. Alas, the solution proved unsatisfactory. I could obviously do without watching stories and liking posts, but I missed the messaging aspect; there are some friends that I exclusively talk to on Instagram messages. In an effort to stay in touch, I promptly re-downloaded Instagram and found myself staring face-to-face at my opponent, my enemy, my monster were I Frankenstein: reels. What more, my feed was back to the default of basically convincing me to go on a starvation diet or buy an excess of fast fashion, topics that I had never shown interest in. Reels is a feeding ground for unhealthy and unethical lifestyles, and the easy way out of it requires sacrificing the best part of Instagram, which is staying in touch with friends digitally.
There should be an option to disable reels on Instagram that does not include deleting the app altogether. I have since learned to manage my time well, and in foresight can see how ridiculous and embarrassing it was that I conceded to the evil temptations that are Instagram reels. Certainly, I would have come to that realization far faster had I been able to disable the videos within the app. As we continue to condemn and remedy unhealthy and addictive corners of the internet, all apps need to be held accountable to create solutions.