I spent the majority of last night scouring the Instagram of Toni Garrn, the latest victim in Leonardo DiCaprio’s hunt for a model wife/child bride. The French yachts and Victoria Secret parties were entertaining at first, but soon morphed into a taunting parade of things I’ll never have: movie star boyfriends, the body of an underwear model, a date of birth in the 1990s.
Toni’s casual smile began to twist with mockery. A birthday ‘gram to @karliekloss questioned my lack of famous friends. And I was left wondering how an innocent journey to The Wolf of Wall Street’s Rotten Tomato page had led me down this path of insecurity and self-loathing.
There’s something to be said for social media. It connects us to friends and relatives, and exposes us to worlds we’ll never see. It sparks revolutions. But, perhaps most importantly, it gives access to the world’s most (in)famous inhabitants. You can tweet at Beyoncé, celebrate the New Year with Heidi or even analyze Obama’s Chipotle order – all with the understanding that said person (or at least their unpaid intern) is speaking to you from the other side of the screen.
Social media makes the unattainable feel attainable. It’s like watching Sex & the City while dreaming of designer clothes and rich boyfriends, but better because it’s real.
In many ways, social media is the great equalizer, tearing the walls down around celebrities to make them feel approachable and real. My fear, however, is that this constant exposure has created the worst FOMO of all: one for a life that can never be ours.
Take my friend Matt. An avid follower of models and movie stars, Matt feels “a truly close connection” to Adriana Lima. Because of Instagram, a world famous model now feels like a close friend.
And why wouldn’t she? He knows how she takes her coffee, and recognizes the wallpaper in her bedroom. Once, she even liked a picture of him as a baby. Matt soon began to compare every woman he met to those whose feeds he had been perusing only moments before. His expectations have been skewed forever.
Celebrity FOMO is the unique affliction of Generation Y, prodding 20-somethings into a state of perennial dissatisfaction. Our microwave-using, Urban Outfitter-wearing ways simply can’t compete with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
It’s up to every individual to self-police. Before an Instagram stalking spree, I recommend asking yourself a few preemptive questions:
Have I met this person IRL?
Do I admire their career? Or their hair extensions?
Is their pied-a-terre bigger than my childhood home?
Does it really matter what Nina Dobrev ate for breakfast?
But she might have posted a photo of Ian Somerhalder?!?! (Still.)
Maybe some people are capable of scrolling with abandon, but I , for one, am not. It takes a certain level of maturity to keep those images from distorting expectations for one’s own life. So for those of you who, like me, are left feeling inadequate: unfollow. You might just find yourself happy with what you have.