Sunday, December 15, 2013

Does Instagram increase suffering?

The first truth of Buddhism is that suffering is inevitable. There's birth, old age, sickness, and death -- and Instagram. Actually, according to a New York Times article, "The  Agony of Instagram," the photo-sharing app is related to the Second Noble Truth, the cause of suffering.<--break->
Members of the Facebook generation are no strangers to the sensation of feeling a little left out when their friends post from that book party they weren’t invited to, or from someone’s latest transporting trip to the white sands of Tulum. Yet even for those familiar with the concept of social-media envy, Instagram — the highest achievement yet in social-media voyeurism — presents a new form of torture.
Instagram, with its various filters, allows people to post photos of their lives looking enviably
fabulous, the Times says -- creating dissatisfaction in people whose unfiltered lives are messier, less artistic. That dissatisfaction with our own lives and the belief that we'd be happy if only things were different is pretty much the definition of dukkha.

The Times reports that Fear of Missing Out, aka FOMO, or the anxiety and envy that arises from thinking everyone is having more fun than you, is a thing being looked at by researchers. Instagram is the biggest instigator, it says.

What to do, what to do? You could follow the path of renunciation and delete your Instagram account if it's that bothersome. Or use it train in mudita, joy in others' good fortune. Or transform the Instagram culture by posting affirmations.

Change your mind to change the world.

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