Instagram Nation is not a how-to post.
If you’re just here for the help with your marketing or mobile ad campaigns, check the archives. This is about the furthest thing from that, so don’t bitch at me if you decide to keep reading. Instagram nation is a story about the parallels between social media and anti-depressants.
Instagram nation is not a hashtag, a cute way of describing “my tribe” or anything remotely like that. I’m not going to explain how to get more followers, more likes, more engagement, more comments, or how to day part your advertising to get a better ROI. I do that here sometimes, but this post is part book review and part supposition about social media and the parallels between both addiction and socially acceptable drug use twenty years ago.
I’m having a stressful day here.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post since I randomly decided to download Prozac Nation on my original Kindle (you know, the kind with the e-ink that isn’t backlit or color) and give it a read over the weekend. The random way that I decided to re-read the book was almost too random – I was standing in my back yard and out of nowhere the idea to do a blog titled “Instagram Nation” all the sudden popped in my head.
Normally when something like this happens, I end up buying some worthless domains and maybe even building a quick landing page – which never sees one iota of real traffic since it turns out to be a stupid domain, a silly idea, or worse yet, both. Books are good to read, so even if a person is reading a book for the wrong reasons, the fact that they are reading an entire book (in one and a half sittings, no mean feat for nearly 400 pages!) in order to write a 900 word blog article is to be commended.
That’s not why I’m stressed. I’m stressed because I literally got lost in the airport earlier today, trying to pick someone up. I thought I was being cute with my secret shortcut, but then I felt like that guy who whizzes one over the green and then on the comeback sends it flying off the other side again, and it’s like being the ping pong ball, I suppose. I made fun of someone else who got lost in the airport last month.
So what exactly is an Instagram Nation?
Let me start by laying out the storyline in Prozac Nation, in case you aren’t familiar with it. There’s a girl, she’s so depressed, she spends about 325 pages talking about the weird, depressed, off the wall lead up to being prescribed (yes, I know you guessed it), Prozac.
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Prozac, in case you aren’t familiar with it, was marketed – for a time at least – as the greatest anti-depressant since lithium, and it was over-prescribed at a rate not seen again until the advent of oxycontin when it was first approved. Everyone (and their cat) was taking it; or at least that’s how it seemed. And then people started freaking out on it, killing themselves, being more depressed than they were before they got the prescription.
How are Prozac and Instagram the same?
Right on, back on the subject. Roughly 25 years ago was a pivotal point in a large number of GenX lives – being pushed out into the world, and being very depressed about the whole thing. Suicidally depressed, even – ever heard of Kurt Cobain? Prozac was touted as the “miracle cure” for the mildly depressed, the massively disillusioned, those who maybe wanted to die or maybe just wanted to be saved.
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But…Prozac – it didn’t make everyone feel good. Heck, it even made some people feel worse – WAY WAY WAY worse. A lot of people should never have been prescribed the drug. Side effects include suicidal thoughts, loss of motor function and withdrawal symptoms that can last for months. Sounds a lot like oxy, if you ask me.
How does that relate to social media today?
The meteoric rise of social media use, especially by millenials and subsequent generations, can be — and often is – directly attributed to causing depression, usually in the form of FOMO, in these groups. These digital generations are facing obstacles – financial, personal, political – without the safety net that baby boomers or Gen X had to catch them. I’m still trying to figure out what that safety net is, to no avail, in case you’re wondering.
My reasoning for likening the Instagram Nation to the Prozac Nation is because in many cases, instead of the three martini lunch or getting a prescription to cure their ills, they turn to social media for their self satisfaction and worth. That’s why I call it “death by a thousand likes”. We are all bombarded with ads, how tos, crafted “stories” of how followers, engagement and likes will cause one to get rich, be popular, have more friends, and increase life satisfaction overall to the nth degree.
I suppose, for some, this is exactly what happens. There is a percentage of social media users who derive genuine satisfaction from their efforts, whether it is income, fame, or some other personal metric, and these folks are truly engaged with their choice of platforms and that is enough.
Ugh, you are depressing me. Stop already.
For most people the opposite is true. We hear stories about “Instagram models” spending all their time perfecting selfies – as if being an “influencer” was actually a career. It is a career for a subset, a very small subset, of people. Everyone else is just hanging in there, waiting to go viral, knowing that if they can just get 10,000 followers to use swipe up that everything will be great.
So just like Prozac, the number of people who are actually profitable at social media is a tiny one. The rest of the people spending all their waking hours trying to get good at it are just wasting their time and they’ll never be the next Kim, Kylie, Kendall, or Rihanna. It’s inevitable that most people fail miserably at it, or else it wouldn’t be something to strive to excel at… sort of like a crazy Catch-22 where everyone wants to be Milo but no one else but Milo can be Milo.
Maybe you think I’m the crazy one, and maybe I am! I am just as guilty as the next person of having social media accounts, posting on them, and hoping that people will like what I post.