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Follow Friends, Not Strangers, to Reduce Instagram FOMO

Time to unfollow the Kardashians. Science says they’re making you sad.

Image via the Rich Kids of Instagram.

According to real research published by psychologists at Pace University, Instagram-induced FOMO can actually make you sad. Studying 117 young milennials between the ages of 18-29, the researchers found that the subjects who followed a high volume of strangers’ Instagram accounts exhibited “despressive symptoms”. People who only followed friends, on the other hand, were less likely to experience negative emotions while scrolling through their image feed.


“Passive use (e.g., browsing others’ profiles without posting one’s own new material) seems to be particularly detrimental,” says the study. “Passively looking at others’ profiles displaying photos of vacations or social events to which one was not invited often triggers resentment, envy, and loneliness. Jealousy and relationship problems can result from spending too much time on profiles of romantic partners.”

Is it possible that Instagram is causing these feelings? Sure. But more likely your exposure to these images are just exacerbating preexisting emotions—emotions that are real and valid!

But once in while it’s good to be reminded that Instagram is just a display case. It’s where we store the images of ourselves that we want other people to see. Sure, some people are living better than others, but aren’t we all just flesh-covered meat sacks living on a insignificant rock in the vast universe, trying desperately to forget our fragile mortality with the superficial accoutrements of life in a hyper-capitalist society? The Kardashians just do it better than the rest of us. But if you really feel down, you should probably just unfollow.

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