I Don’t Understand Instagram

I did a bit of an experiment and spent some time on Instagram, which I usually rarely do, and followed some popular influencers there.

The first reason is that I sometimes find beauty influencers to be quite relaxing (and I made a compilation of my favorite unintentional ASMR moments and voices thereof).
The second reason is that I don’t really get Instagram. I have a hard time understanding why looking at rich people doing boring stuff is so appealing to so many people. I’m more interested in ideas than looking at images and products, I guess.

After a few weeks of being on Instagram, I gotta admit I still don’t really get it. The pictures are always the same. The stories are incredibly boring, even top influencers like the Kardashians only show the products they’re selling, it’s one big extended sales pitch with a few tidbits of workouts or fancy food.

Nonetheless, I’m somewhat fascinated by the beauty influencer ecosystem: It’s a group of women (and some gay and trans folks), most of them living in California, who either a) bring out their own beauty products (probably cheaply made by someone else), or they b) open beauty products that other beauty influencers or companies send them for free.

Literally, 90% of their lives (according to their IG stories) consists of opening “PR packages” by other beauty influencers, and they always gush over the product and how they’re obsessed with it. And that beautiful packaging! (They all seem to the same vocabulary). They rarely test the products (they probably don’t use this cheap shit), but they always say it’s the best product ever.
I’ve never seen one beauty influencer say something critical. Why would they? They want to continue getting money from brands and lie to their followers about how they’re obsessed with that new crappy eyeliner or lip balm.

What’s more is that I’ve never heard one of these beauty influencers say something genuinely interesting or personal. Why doesn’t Kim Kardashian talk about her divorce? Or at least about how she’s trying to get a law degree? (I read that somewhere else).
Or at least tell me how you’re genuinely feeling or give me a heads up if a product sucks.
Just show me some humanity, show me you have emotions!
But no, it’s just more mindless PR pack openings or “today is memorial day! 10% off on my fragrance, swipe up and buy, buy, buy!”

Very rarely, there will be some vague political statement that is 100% safe and 100% aligned with what all the other huge corporations post on their social media, something like “Black Lives Matter” or “happy pride month”.
I feel like those influencers aren’t people anymore .. They’re brands, they’re companies.

I guess it just works better to buy from a shell of a human without a personality, I’m sure Kris Jenner and the other marketing teams figured that out at some point. If you have opinions and emotions, you’re no longer the perfect vessel for holding Dior handbags and H&M perfume in a camera and pretend to looove the product. Admittedly, I rarely saw IG Influencers openly flaunt their wealth. That’s probably not great for sales and likeability either with too many normal people struggling to make ends meet. But who thinks these rich, out of touch influencers are likeable anyways?

I don’t want to imagine what watching this kind of content regularly does to the self-image of young women (which most Instagram users are). Not only is any possible imperfection hidden under layers upon layers of professional makeup. On top of that, influencers use filters that not only make their skin flawless, but can also change their body proportions (and sometimes they even sell those Instagram filters). But who are you trying to trick here, especially if you’re not doing this professionally? Your face is still your face in real life.

And there’s more, on top of the makeup and filters: Tons and tons of botox and plastic surgery. If you look at before and after pictures of the Kardashians, the transformations are grotesque. The nose gets done, the boobs get done, the fat is sucked from the belly and put in the ass. If beauty influencers were honest, they’d tell their followers “This ‘facelift’ lotion I’m selling won’t do shit. If you want to look like me, be rich and go to a surgeon who will cut you open and rearrange your body parts, which is what I’ve been doing!” And sure, not everyone gets plastic surgery, but the influencers probably have more money and time than you, they’ll have trainers and nutritionists (or they’ll take steroids which almost all fitness influencers do) – so it’s stupid to compare yourselves to them.

But anyways, I don’t want to be too critical. I almost feel like a boomer criticizing the “evil internet”. There’s worse stuff out there, TV and YouTube aren’t necessarily better.
And I understand how getting glimpses of how celebrities live is enticing to some people, seeing their homes, their families, their vacations. And those IG stories are well designed for our ADHD brains to give us a bit of dopamine, they’re short and curated. And I understand why influencers use Instagram for their business – a lot of them are making a lot of money.
But it’s a weird world, there’s so little substance and humanity, and so much capitalism. If you look behind the facade of it, it’s all about buying, buying, buying, consuming, consuming, consuming.

I just don’t think it’s a net positive: I’m convinced Instagram eventually makes everyone unhappy: Both the creators (especially the small ones who are struggling. But even the top earners must have some body dysmorphia thing going on to keep getting their faces and bodies “remodeled”) and the consumers (who compare their dull lives to a curated show by a fake puppet living a fake life for Instagram). But I guess unhappy people who feel ugly buy more makeup and shapewear.

😴 What might help you find calm

Intentional ASMR Picks:

Unintentional ASMR Picks:

  • I was happy to see that David Bull, a gold mine for unintentional ASMR, postet another video (it’s not him but a Japanese woman showing the process of woodblock printmaking though)
  • Mike Kennedy is cool – here he is presenting a small fist aid and survival kit
  • I was super impressed and relaxed by this repair & restoration of vintage guitar amps by Colleen Fazio,  so I reached out and she let me make a compilation of moments I enjoyed (she’s the one from the picture above)