As an avid user of Instagram, I follow many ‘healthy’ bloggers, whom involve the follower in a pictorial account of their specified and highly restricted diets.

For example: Honey and Fig’s:

 

These beautifully photographed plates of food fill my Instagram every day, how does this new craze affect what I perceive to be healthy? The article Green is the new black, by Hadley Freeman (Guardian, June 2015) discusses this new wave of ‘wellness’, as a group of untrained ‘professionals’ take to Instagram to discuss how to live a healthy and happy life. This article got me thinking, has this new fad changed our perception of what is healthy, has it effected what we do and do not eat, how we exercise, and run our daily lives.

My shelves in my flat are full with recipe books written by these, untrained professionals, but why do I trust them, and allow them to change my perception of what is healthy- and inevitably affect my life even when I am offline? Taking an interdisciplinary approach to researching this question, and it’s follow up questions presented, I plan to look at this question from a Philosophical and Psychological perspective.

The area of Philosophy that I will be focusing on is Epistemology, the theory of knowledge. Epistemology looks to answer the questions ‘what is knowledge’, ‘what can we know’ and ‘how do we know what we know’. From reading John Greco and Ernest Sosa’s ‘The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology’ (1999), I have been further shown that there distinct areas within Epistemology that I will focus on. The first area I will focus on is Skepticism, looking at justification of knowledge and its influence how we gain new knowledge and objectivity and how our own perspectives can restrict our knowledge.  The other area I will focus on is Social Epistemology, this looks at whether and to what extent our knowledge is effected by social conditions; including the way it effects individual knowledge, collective knowledge and cognitive labour.

Psychology, like Philosophy is broken into many broad areas, I will be focusing on Social Psychology. Social Psychology is the field of Psychology that studies human behaviour, this includes how our thoughts, feelings, behaviours are influenced by the presence of others, be this actual, imagined or implied . Starting again with a core text book, The 4th edition of ‘Psychology’ by G. Neil Martin, Neil R. Carlson and William Buskist (2010), I have narrowed down the field of Social Psychology to look at a few areas. I will focus on the field Social Influence, looking at the behaviour of groups online, through compliance, obedience and conformity. Compliance looks at the conditions under which people will just go along with a request, or do someone a favour, without question or disagreement. Obedience, again like compliance, is to do with following others orders, usually in obedience this entails the person who’s orders you are following to be someone with perceived authority or power. Finally, Conformity is a deeper change than compliance and obedience, in which you are not just changing your behaviour but adopting the attitude and internal cognitive structures of the group.

These approaches can be used to look at group and individual behaviours online, and how the community on Instagram may in-turn effect the change of our perception of what is healthy, and how our individual knowledge may be effected through using Instagram.

[See original blog post, on course site: http://blog.soton.ac.uk/webs6203/2015/10/29/has-instagram-changed-our-perception-of-what-is-healthy/]

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