August Is the Cruelest Month—If You’re On Instagram
If these people see one more picture of their friends’ fabulous vacations on their Instagram feeds, they’re going to shoot someone. Eliza Shapiro on the summer of Insta-rage.
What’s worse than working in August? Working in August and having Instagram.
As peak summer vacation season gets underway, photos of naked toes on beaches, selfies on large boats, and vast blueberry fields are clogging up the Instagram feeds of some 130 million people who depend on the service as a daily barometer of their own self-worth.
The result: a new era of Instagram-induced social anxiety, this one taking the form of sheer, unadulterated rage.
A highly non-scientific Daily Beast survey of vacation Insta-ragers shows they fall into several categories: those who hate, those who forgive, and those who can’t wait to take their virtual revenge.
Avi Zenilman, a student in Baltimore, channeled his Instagram rage into an act of social media rebellion. He decided he would only post pictures of toilets—at home, on campus, at his friends’ houses—on his Instagram.
“Everyone was like, ‘here’s the really great places I go,’” he says, “and I thought, ‘well here are the places I go.’ Somehow everyone’s life is so sun-dappled and cultured on Instagram. It’s ridiculous.”
His friends thought it was a funny—for a while. But as his toilet-grams were swallowed in a sea of vacation pictures, Zenilman decided to start Instagramming his dinners and nights out—just like everyone else.
“I lost the courage of my convictions,” he says.
The onslaught of summer vacation pictures swathed in Valencia or X-Pro II has caused former sufferers of FOMO (that stands for fear of missing out, for those of you who have perfect psyches) to abandon their jealousy for rage.
“There are certain people who I don’t talk to but follow on Instagram who seem to be on a perpetual European vacation all summer,” says Brian Donahoe, a paralegal in Manhattan. “Get something to do! I may be at work, but at least I have a future, you latter-day Edie Sedgwick.”
He says he unfollows some of the worst offenders. “It’s like—I don’t need this.’” And of course, not everyone can afford a trans-Atlantic plane trip every August.
Donahoe’s recent Instagrams include a photo of his new air conditioner and a screenshot text from his teenage cousin.
Miriam Eisenstat, whose job at a music venue in Massachusetts requires her to work on summer holidays and long weekends, says Fourth of July was particularly rage-inducing this year.
“Everyone had these obnoxious red-white-and-blue beach pictures everywhere,” she says, “I was not happy to be an American once confronted with the huge line of people trying to get into the show.”
Eisenstat says she has confronted friends in person over their Instagram sharing, particularly of uploading too many food pictures from their vacations while she cooks herself dinner. She recently Instagrammed a picture of expensive unripe avocados at her local supermarket.
Some Insta-ragers are channeling their anger into making Instagram a competitive sport. One summer-time cubicle dweller who declined to be named says the only thing making her friends’ feeds tolerable right now is the thought of her upcoming September vacation—during which she plans to inundate Instagram. (Her recent Instagrams include a picture of her cat resting his legs on her face and a shot of her at a pool.)
“It was like, yeah bitches, I’m at the pool,” she says. “When I go through my feed I think, ‘yeah, you’re on a boat, we get it,’ but when I’m on a boat, I’m probably going to be annoying about it, too.”
Then there are the people who are doing their level best to be good people—no matter how much more fun their friends (appear to be) having. “The entire world is on vacation, while you’re at work,” says Tanikia Thompson, a blogger in Chicago who recently wrote on the topic of Insta-envy, “But keep calm and double tap their pictures. Don’t hate, soon it’ll be your turn to Instagram.”
Thompson adds, “We’d all be lying if we didn’t admit the bittersweet taste Instagram can leave, especially in the summer months.”
When all else fails, follow some celebrities—their vacations will at least make you feel less jealous of your friends.
“I follow a bunch of rappers and athletes on Instagram,” says Sam Schube, a journalist in New York who recently posted a picture of a set of keys stuck in a tree. “They are far better at conspicuous vacationing than my friends. So it’s hard to be mad at a friend Instagramming a photo of themselves on the beach when that pops up next to a shot of Rick Ross on a way better beach with champagne and models.”
And it’s hard to stay mad at Rick Ross.