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I've regained a lot of mental peace once I quit Instagram. When you have hundreds of friends and follow random influencers, you get the impression that every single person is always on a beach in Bali, eating at Michelin star restaurants, riding Lambos and partying with attractive, successful people in the most exclusive venues in exotic locations. In the meanwhile you're a corporate drone stuck in traffic to get to your grey cubicle, dealing with a shitty boss, trying to figure out how to pay rent.

The reality is that those people who FOMO you, don't have that lifestyle. They're simply marketers, but our brains aren't super good at seeing past that. And your friends? Sure, they go to a cool place once in a while individually, but you're just being exposed to hundreds of them all signaling at the same time. Statistically speaking you WILL see your extended social circle doing something cool multiple times a day. This used to be manageable in the 150 person village age. Bob got a new goat, son of a bitch.. oh well. But at social media scale our brains simply can't handle it.

It's analogous to how regular people don't realize just how much Photoshop and photographic skill goes into making someone look as good as they do in magazines and on their IG feed. We look at them and immediately conclude that we're some kind of a sub-human degenerate species compared to them, whereas in reality it's all bullshit.

It feels SO much better to swim in one's lane (basically JOMO), not looking around to see how everybody else is doing, especially when it's not real.

I'm not a religious person, but there's something really powerful in the admonition not to covet your neighbor's spouse, house, animals... which is what I sense my brain doing on social media.

The genius of IG is that it makes people willingly subscribe to hours of marketing every day. Zuckerberg got one hell of a deal on that company, 1 bil for it has to be the greatest deal of the century.




Growing up in a Midwestern suburb where obesity was normal, I found the messaging about how our beauty standards are unrealistic and manufactured by Photoshop to be at least sort of plausible. Now I’m quite certain it’s not true. Walking down the street in San Francisco, a majority of the young adults I encounter really are slim, muscular, well groomed, and sharply dressed, embodying the “unrealistic, unhealthy” ideals of my adolescence. I wondered if this was just wealth, but it even extends to people in the service sector.

If Instagram lives are unrealistic, they’re unrealistic in much the same way as coastal megacities. It’s true that most Americans will never live like that. But those people really exist and their numbers are not small.


Similar transition here. Pretty sure it's both cultural and financial - keep in mind many service workers, e.g. waiters and bartenders, make much more in the SF area than their counterparts in middle America.

Also there is a bit of a feedback loop of Instagram highlighting conspicuous consumption / wealth and beauty as ideals, and everyone else attempting to emulate that. Keep in mind the reason there are so many influencers making money simply for being attractive and going to fancy places it that so many people get influenced by their posts


That's a valid perspective. I absolutely concede that the type of experiences you can have on IG is very different, and I can completely understand the Midwest -> NorCal transition.

To contextualize, my experience was of someone already living in the big "fashionable" cities in California. I was even living in the same building of influencers with millions of followers, having a completely different "perceived" lifestyle experience than most of them or even of my social circle in the same area.


Ask about beauty routines for these people and you'll learn the difference. The urban elite spend a lot of time on exercising, creating food habits, and fashion.


We're calling randos walking down the street in San Francisco the "urban elite" now?

The vast majority of people I know who are attractive do not spend a lot of time on beauty regimes and are not gym rats.


That's a really interesting perspective, thank you.

There definitely are some truly unrealistic standards out there, but the unhealthy or impossible are probably a small subset of the images we see these days.


In case you weren't aware, many of the Instagram users who appear to be on permanent vacation don't actually make much money from marketing and are actually part-time sex workers. Their lifestyles are funded by johns or "sugar daddies".

(I'm not making a moral judgment here, just pointing out the reality behind the illusion.)


Yep, that's a great point, very aware of it. Instagram is secretly one of the most successful marketing channels out there for sex work, but it is something most people aren't aware of or don't talk much about. Exposure to hundreds of thousands of males, constant fresh teasing content, the ability to instantly DM a "vendor" to strike a deal etc.

Always amusing to see IG models go from working at an ice cream shop one day to suddenly yachts and helicopter rides in the dreamiest exotic places the next, without any brand sponsorship or anything to sell. Most people don't bother to ask where the money is coming from. Who's paying for it? Insiders of that world have a lot of interesting stories.


This piece of information just amplified my depression when I learned about it, because of past not-income-optimized life decisions (okay, probably even more because of limited abilities and capabilities), I know know for sure that with a high probability I won't plausibly have ability to buy my way into that kind of world and yet I'm regularly reminded that it exists and not only that, but how it exactly looks like.

Of course, in the past, the equivalent me still wouldn't have had access to the world of magnificent parties and elite courtesans either. But I believe that the whole of that kind of social strata would have been much more distant, and thus less traumatizing in that particular psychosocial way. Sure, you'd see carriages passing by (or passing over you if unlucky) now and then, and maybe you'd buy a ticket to see the King have his breakfast (and it would be once in a year event to satisfy your curiosity), but that lifestyle wouldn't be marketed to you. There wouldn't be the constant visual reminders that if you'd done something differently, how different your life could be.


Why would you need to quit? Like all social media you can unfollow people. Follow what interests you. If someone gives you FOMO unfollow.


That's a good point too. I have a personal account now with maybe 40 friends where I immediately unfollow anybody who's constantly signaling a fake lifestyle through their stories. Out of sight, out of mind. Works really well.


For the same reason an alcoholic shouldn't try to moderate their drinking.


Where's the proof of that? I've known people who at some point would have met the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism, and yet managed to moderate their drinking on their own without quitting or going to AA or anything like that. Obviously that doesn't work for everyone but I wouldn't glibly dismiss the possibility.


I suspect (and science is starting to suggest) that addiction is more of a spectrum than a binary and my comment is really just about the people toward the far ends of those spectrums.

The fact that your friends could moderate, while there plainly exist the graves of those who couldn't, also supports this view.


Booking.com acquisition by Priceline (though now the company is called Booking Holding) is probably the only deal this century that rivals Instagram.


Not the company. Priceline Group is now Booking Holding, composed to Priceline.com, Booking, Agoda, Kayak etc etc




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