On Sunday night, actor Colton Haynes posted an important message to Instagram alongside a carousel of grim selfies that shed light on the realities of how social media can affect our mental health.
“I don’t want worrying about if I look hot or not on Instagram to be my legacy,” he wrote in a post that he also called a throwback. “I don’t want to skirt around the truth to please other people or to gain economic success. I have far more important things to say than what magazine I just shot for or what tv show I’m a part of (Although I’m very thankful I still get to do what I love.)”
In the lengthy post, Haynes says he’s “struggled the past year with trying to find [his] voice.” Amongst other things, concerns about when and how to maximize post engagement or internal body image issues were a part of this.
“Worrying about what time to post on social media so I can maximize my likes or being mad at myself that I don’t look the same way I did when I was addicted to pills is a complete waste of why I was put on this earth,” he wrote. “I’m posting these photos to let y’all in on my truth. I’m so grateful to be where I am now but man these times were dark.” In May he revealed he was six months sober.
In the photos, Haynes is bruised, and in a hospital bed. It is a marked difference than the generally well-lit, muscle bound content that generally hits his feed. And that, of course, is the point.
Instagram even recognizes the way the platform can make people feel pressured or anxious about posting. Earlier this year, they began to test the possibility of a feed without likes. While there would still be the ability to see who liked a post, the social media platform wouldn’t tabulate the list into a number. The test has gone out to select countries so far.