I’ve been using Instagram since early 2017, when an editor told our agent that our “platform” was just mediocre. When I asked what that actually meant, Al said, “Your social media platform.” You know, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the number of followers you have on these platforms.
My initial reaction was, Huh? Do followers actually buy books? I’d already realized that Twitter was useless unless you were already a celebrity or famous for something. What was the point of posting anything when the news was swallowed up within seconds by someone else’s post? I stopped using it.
I like Facebook for its reach and versatility, enjoy the closed groups especially for teaching workshops, and still use it.
I started building followers on Instagram and what a strange journey it has been. In Instagram etiquette, at least the way I understand it now, you should be following far fewer people than the number that follow you. I violated that rule from the beginning. The second rule of the IG etiquette is that your IG account should have a brand focus – travel, dogs, astrology, cats, UFOs, aliens, art, novels, writers, movies, health, coaching, law of attraction, cooking, parenting, synchronicity, 11, something specific that other people of like minds can connect to. I’ve also violated that one. Right now, I’ve got followers and follow IG accounts in all of the above plus some.
At one point, when I posted the cover of our book, Aliens in the Backyard: UFOs, Abductions, and Synchronicity, some dude left me a comment: WTF? What’s your brand?
That comment triggered a whole thought process for me about where our culture is now. Why does a woman who professes to be a yoga teacher but basically has a huge butt, have more than 12 million followers? What has she achieved to garner that many followers? I can understand the millions who follow Stephen King and J.K. Rowling: they’ve produced stuff, books that have molded our cultural thought about the mysterious and magical. But a big butt??
On the day Uranus entered Taurus, I put up an astrology post about Trump and the Mueller investigation. That day, I got more than 100 followers on Instagram – not because of trump, but because I started following someone who had a lot of followers in, well, something. My followers rose to 685. By the next morning, I’d lost 50 followers. I have no idea why for the rise or the fall.
I’ve discovered that if private accounts or people who haven’t posted anything yet follow me, the account is usually porn – a naked woman or guy who direct messages me and says, Hey, click here for more! Quite often, I get follows from people selling IG followers for a nominal price. Why? Why would I bother buying followers? What does that even mean? What’s the purpose? Do I buy followers so that I, like the big butt woman, can have 12 million followers? And if I did reach that point, would it mean these 12 million buy books? Probably not. But what it does mean is that I’m now an INFLUENCER on Instagram and advertisers buy space on my IG account and that translates as bucks for me.
This evening, Megan’s former college roommate, Jules, explained all this in a way I’d never heard before. She’s in a PhD program at Stanford, where the consensus thought is that we’re all locked into a mimetic theory that states that most of human behavior is based upon imitation.That would explain why there are so many IG accounts about “building a life that is the best version of you,”a phrase that first appeared on Oprah. Barnes & Noble caught that bug, and now has a special exhibit of books in that genre. And there’s no shortage of life coaches who will be delighted to teach you how to do this for a hefty fee.
In other words, in the mimetic theory, which PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel expounds, we’re all imitators. Life is built on imitation. This system of thought was first advocated by French philosopher Rene Girard, who died in 2015.
Girard’s fundamental ideas, which he developed throughout his career and provided the foundation for his thinking, were that desire is mimetic (i.e., all of our desires are borrowed from other people); that all conflict originates in mimetic desire (mimetic rivalry); that the scapegoat mechanism is the origin of sacrifice and the foundation of human culture, and religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can come from mimetic rivalry; and that the Bible reveals these ideas and denounces the scapegoat mechanism.
Reading this makes me want to vomit.
It implies that we humans are incapable of original thought and desires, that we covet and envy what others have, and these emotions are what propel us through life.
Is this really where we are as a culture?
Jules also said something else that struck me as strange about our individual identities. At Stanford, people introduce themselves as pronouns. “I’m Jules. I’m she and her.” A straight man might say, “I’m he and him.” Someone in an open marriage might say, “I’m they.”
A secret language, a secret code- or the underpinnings of a Dystopian future?