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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
(I'm not making a moral judgment here, just pointing out the reality behind the illusion.)
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.
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.
The fact that your friends could moderate, while there plainly exist the graves of those who couldn't, also supports this view.