In the last year, Elon Musk has been a looming figure in the world of social media thanks to his acquisition of Twitter—now named X—and his repeated fight challenges aimed at fellow social media pioneer Mark Zuckerberg. But before this, he was a regular user of these platforms just like everyone else, sharing selfies on Instagram to his heart’s content. In 2018, however, Musk deleted his Instagram account and disappeared from the app.
The Tesla CEO sat down with Joe Rogan in a new interview and discussed what led to that choice five years ago. Musk was honest with his answer and admitted he didn’t like how vain he was becoming.
“There was a time when I was posting on Instagram, but I found myself doing selfies and I’m, like, ‘What the hell is wrong with me?'” he wondered. “‘Why am I posing for selfies to get likes?'” He first expanded on this thought back in 2018 after he left the app. “Instagram is so thirsty, yet gives you Death by Water,” he wrote on then-Twitter, referencing T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem “The Waste Land.”
The two controversial figures explored the negative societal effects that platforms centered around “pretty pictures” like Instagram have on people everywhere. Rogan pointed out he’s “caught grown men using filters on their pictures” and called it a “very strange” phenomenon.
Musk went on to share what worries him about the photo and video sharing app now owned by his rival Mark Zuckerberg. “I am concerned that Instagram actually leads to more unhappiness, not less, in the sense that it just looks like everyone is just having a great time and is way better looking than they really are,” he said honestly. “I think it can make you kind of depressed.” His beliefs are largely backed up by science, as studies have found that Instagram can have a detrimental effect on young people’s mental health and self-worth.
Social media in general often feels like it’s filled with more negativity than positivity, so choosing between apps can be a bit like picking what kind of poison you want.