The Alternative Universe Called Instagram

I came across this headline one day this summer, about Instgram “star” Jen Selter being removed from an American Airlines flight.  and thought, Huh? What’s an Instagram star?

As someone old enough to remember when cell phones didn’t exist, computers were in their infancy,  and network TV went off the air at 1 a.m., this headline struck me as REALLY odd. I can understand being an Instagram star if you’ve excelled at something –  you’re an incredible artist or an inventor who has brought us zero point energy. Or  you’ve built a community on Mars, ended poverty and hunger, or have written a mind-blowing book.

But I don’t understand why an apparent narcissist who calls herself a fitness guru is considered an Instagram star for flaunting her big butt in various yoga poses. It seems to be the number of followers that makes the star – almost 12 million for her.

Instagram is a weird world. Mostly images. The idea is to get as many followers as possible  and thousands of likes on any single image you post. There are groups, of course – dogs, cats, aliens, writers, artists, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs, life coaches, psychics, and any other category you can imagine.

If you can’t amass followers quickly enough, you can buy them. I’ve gotten several solicitations for follower buys in the year or so I’ve been posting. But that’s nothing new. You can also buy Twitter followers, You Tube followers,  and reviews for your book on Amazon. There’s no end in social media for buying followers. What’s kind of sad about this is that money still talks, profit remains the bottom line.

However you gather your Instagram  followers, you may have 11,000 followers one day and 10,500 the next because people have UNfollowed you.   Why? This aspect of Instagram reduces it to the level of a high school popularity contest.

I’m convinced there are people who live on Instagram, who eat their three meals a day while scrolling through likes and comments on their own posts and on other people’s posts. They track the numbers of their followers closely and openly state, “If you follow me, I’ll follow you. If you unfollow me, I’ll unfollow you.”

Then there are Instagram people who pretend to be celebrities just to get followers, which has prompted some of the real celebrities to add “official” before their names. The other day, I ran across an Instagram account called fox mulder ties. Yeah, you read that correctly. And the only photos on his site are ties, men wearing ties that Fox Mulder from X-Files may or may not have worn.

I love Stephen King’s Instagram. He has a million followers and follows just one Instagram account – for IT, the movie. I used to be able to find JK Rowling’s Instagram page, but no more. Look at all the wannabe Rowlings…some of them even claim to be “official”.

I enjoy Instagram accounts that aren’t pretentious – Whitley Strieber’s is great, Grimerica Podcast is quirky and fun, we love aliens has wonderful photos and depictions of UFOs and aliens and who knows if any of them are real. I enjoy accounts that tell stories about the lives of the people who post – their creative talents, the animals and people they love,  the places they travel, the books they read.

Instagram is an alternative universe  that reminds me how diverse , strange, and mysterious physical life is. It’s also social media’s ultimate popularity contest, even when you haven’t done much of anything to warrant the attention. Go figure.


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8 Responses to The Alternative Universe Called Instagram

  1. lauren raine says:

    never saw instagram. But your piece reminds me a bit of a show on Netflix, “Dark Mirror”, called “Social Media”. It envisions a world basically run by social media………

  2. Barbara says:

    People throughout the centuries will always find ways to distract themselves instead of doing the hard and important work which is working on oneself.

  3. Melissa says:

    I am with you on Instagram. I don’t really get it.
    When I want to see something on Instagram, I borrow husband’s phone and use his account to look.