Why Instagram is Bad for Humanity

Why Instagram is bad for your self-esteem, your creativity, your mental well-being-being, your focus, and generally — bad for humanity.

My thoughts:


Would you show your bank account balance to a stranger?

First of all, it’s bad for your self-esteem? Why? Like Kanye West said:

Showing your likes and follower counts is like publicly showing your bank account balance or showing others your dick size in public.

All of social relationships are based on “framing”or comparison. For example if you’re worth $10 million dollars but surrounded by people worth $10 billion people, you’re going to feel poor!

With social media and Instagram, let’s say you have 5,000 followers. You’re going to feel less than someone with 50,000 followers. And that person is going to feel lesser than the person with 5 million followers.

Unintentional comparisons

With likes — the same happens. Let’s say I get married and I get “only”100 likes on my photo. But my friend gets 10,000 likes. Of course I’m going to feel like I’m “losing”! It’s like if my friend wears a Rolex and I have a Seiko, I’m going to feel less. Or if I own a Fujifilm and my friend has a Leica. Or if my friend has a Porsche and I have a Prius.

It fucks up your focus

If you’ve ever sat down at a coffee shop, or at work, or at home, or driving and you thought to yourself:

“I wonder what photo I should upload today?”

Then you know, Instagram, Facebook, and social media is subtly affecting and changing your focus.

It changes culture in a strange way

Instagram is a crack-cocaine machine that propagates “lifestyle” in a strange way. Instagram and social media subtly programs our brain to do things and share things which will maximize our like count. For example:

  1. Traveling to a fancy place, an exotic place, and shooting selfies in order to “flex” how fancy your lifestyle is.
  2. We Instagram what we just bought, which propagates mass-consumerist culture. It validates our self-esteem based on what we buy (how expensive or rare it is), in order to maximize our like count, to feel better about ourselves.

It ‘nudges’ our behavior in very sneaky ways.

I am highly highly skeptical and trust nobody who says “Facebook, Instagram, and social media doesn’t affect or change my behavior.” I call B.S. on this.

It is a fact that getting likes, new followers, or notifications changes our hormonal signaling system. For example, let us assume we upload a photo to Instagram, and get 1000 likes. What happens?

  1. Hormonal rush of serotonin, dopamine, and perhaps oxytocin
  2. This feels “good” and makes us feel more powerful.
  3. We become addicted to this ‘feedback loop’, and continue to either consciously (or subconsciously) do this.

What happens when we get LESS likes than we are used to?

So let us assume your average like count on a photo is around 1,000 likes per photo. But let us say tomorrow you upload a photo, and you get “only” 50 likes. What will happen from a hormonal perspective?

  1. Hormonal rush of “stress hormones”, adrenaline rush, cortisol, norepinephrine.
  2. Heart rate increases, we sweat, we get tense.
  3. We feel symptoms like we just got punched in the gut, or the feeling before you public speak, or just lost your job.

Once we become ‘anchored’ to a certain like count, or a certain follower count, and we DROP BELOW that certain average, we feel like shit!

What happens when our self-esteem drops?

What are the societal consequences of having a society of highly-insecure individuals who are addicted to Instagram, social media, and external affirmation?

  1. Less risk-taking in individuals (fewer entrepreneurs)
  2. More mono-culture (more kids/people trying to ‘be cool’, and wearing all the same brands as everyone else).
  3. Too much external stimuli and influence: Inability to listen to yourself and your own inner-voice. Constant state of anxiety, hormonal fluxes (highs from getting likes, lows from getting fewer likes).

Practical suggestions

  1. Delete Instagram: I consider Instagram 1000x worse for your health than smoking, cigarettes, and maybe even cocaine. Are there any downsides to stopping smoking? No. Are there downsides to deleting Instagram? No.
  2. If you really like Instagram but want to use it less, use “Flume“, a laptop-based Instagram program for Mac. So perhaps you can still upload photos to Instagram, but uninstall Instagram from your phone.
  3. Just stop using Instagram for a month: Try a 31-day “Instagram fast”, and see how it changes your brain, your behaviors, and your mood.

But Instagram is good for my following, business, and ‘branding’!

Who is the real owner?
Who is the real owner?

Kanye West turned Yeezy into a 3+billion dollar brand without having an Instagram. So can you!

I am a photographer without an Instagram (I deleted mine ~2+ years ago in 2017), and I’ve been thriving 1000x more as a photographer, creative individual, and visual artist. I’m no longer a slave to the opinions of others, and my opinion has become more clear, more interesting, and more innovative.

What is the alternate? Create your own platform! Start your own website and blog! You will gain 1000x more success, wealth, and influence in the long-term, than the short-term candy-insulin response from Instagram/social media.

Long story short:

Delete the gram!