Rants & Raves

Why Instagram = Narcissism… I’ll try be nice, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I haven’t read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck–which by all accounts is an excellent book–because I’m already there… new life mission: WWHSD (What Would Han Solo Do)?

A word on that: I’m not against caring, or against people–but I am against caring about shit and people that don’t matter.

Examples:

  1. Shit that doesn’t matter = what happened yesterday, what someone said on Facebook, how much money is in your wallet, the brand you’re currently wearing, etc.
  2. People who don’t matter = anyone who is hateful, shallow, dismissive, unfriendly, overly aloof, materialistic, judgmental, etc.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s proceed.

INSTAGRAM (AND FACEBOOK) = NARCISSISM

Disclaimer: if social media weren’t a thing and I could simply reach people through email or text or a phone call, I wouldn’t be on there…

Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which we are living, so I’m on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to reach potential readers, not to bask in the glory of fake attention–and yes, it’s fake.

At the same time I’m a human, so yeah, I want people to like my shit and think I’m cool. Doesn’t everybody?

Finally, I happen to think Instagram is cool (Facebook is dumb–suck it big time Zuckerberg)–it’s awesome to see all y’all living your best lives–but I also think people use it in a shitty, selfish way.

And that’s not cool.

Narcissus was a beautiful hunter from Thespiae in Greece. He was so beautiful that some people fell in love with him, and unrequited, committed suicide. Noting his beauty and wanting to see it for himself (remember, this was a time when mirrors were rare and mostly possessions of the very wealthy), he wandered to a still pool of water and beheld his reflection.

Alas, he was so struck by his beauty he couldn’t pull himself away from his own reflection… and eventually, he died.

We are Narcissus, and Instagram is our pool.

How do I know?

Because:

A) People post photos and stories on Instagram, hoping that those stories will be view, liked, and commented on, but then

B) Often themselves don’t view, like, or comment on the photos and stories of others.

In other words, many (if not most) of the people on Instagram want attention and validation, but are unwilling to give it AKA Narcissus. Selfishness to the extreme.

Because honestly, how much effort does it take to click a heart on screen? How much effort does it take to post a comment?

A: almost zero…

So, if it’s not effort, why don’t people click the heart or comment more? I have a few theories:

  1. They feel they are somehow giving something away–spending social capital of sorts. However, this is false, because no one really gives a shit about individual likes–they’re just looking for numbers–and there’s no limit on the number of times you can like or comment on posts. It’s unlimited. There’s actually more reason to be afraid we’re going to run out of oxygen than likes on Insta. So if you’re not afraid of that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  2. Competition: if I like someone else’s post, they might get more likes than me, and are therefore winning. Again, this is false, because no one really gives a shit, and it’s all fake anyway. Very few people make money on Instagram, and those who do will find it short lived. Also, if you’re actually doing something cool or valuable, it really doesn’t matter. For example, I follow Halsey (because I like her music and she’s hot), but if she wasn’t on Instagram, she’d still be a famous rockstar making millions of dollars.
  3. Laziness and apathy: this is the person so bored with their own life they have nothing better to do than mindlessly scroll through photos on their phone, lacking even the simplest initiative to interact with said photos. And to this person I say: read a fucking book. Or a blog. I can think of a few you might find entertaining.

At this point I’m sure many of you are like, “yeah but Jeff, this is #whitepeopleproblems.”

(Understand, that’s not a racial hashtag–it’s noting privilege–as in: we’re not solving big problems like domestic violence, racism, inequality, etc.)

In a sense that’s true, but it’s also not. Because the photos of good looking women get way more likes on Instagram than photos posted by my gay and trans friends (or people who just aren’t as attractive), as well as anything political, and I happen to think that’s bullshit.

Like: are we really that fucking shallow as a society?

The answer, apparently, is yes. And that’s sad.

So, since I’ve ranted about what shouldn’t happen on Insta, let’s talk about what should.

My policy is to like every single post I see (unless it’s something truly distasteful, like say the Confederate flag) and comment on anything I find relevant. Why?

First, the person posted that photo or story because they thought it was cool and/or wanted validation. Why not give it to them? It doesn’t cost anything and it improves their view of you, if only because people tend to like people who show them affection.

I’ll admit: I see who likes my posts and I like them more–it’s actually endearing.

Conversely, I know who follows me and doesn’t like my posts, and I have to admit that in the abstract, it makes me like them less–as in: I liked your shit, but can’t you like mine? Jerk!

It’s the same for you, right? So do you want people to like you more, or less? If you’re a normal human, we both know the answer (plus you’re on Insta–people who truly don’t care about other people aren’t on social media).

Second, it tricks the algorithm. If I want to see all the photos of all my peeps, I have to like them all or the cyber gods won’t show them to me anymore. So I like all of them and see everyone living their best lives, which rocks.

So let’s be narcissists together–but ethical ones.

You can follow me on Instagram @authorjeffallen, and I promise I’ll follow you back and like your posts.

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