Over the millennia, human culture has given us many useless inventions. But I struggle to think of one that is more useless than Instagram.
(I actually searched for this. As someone with a Ph.D., I do take my research for my rant articles veeery seriously. But try as I may, I fail to see how an avocado saver is less useful than Instagram.)
I mean, who (other than its 1 billion users, apparently, which, I’m sad to say, includes me) needs a self-contained ecosystem where you can’t even post external links?
Instagram is doing the impossible by taking the social media echo chamber to the next level.
But, hey, who needs to be able to link to, say, Wikipedia when you can instead see what I had for dinner? In case you’re wondering, homemade soup with the biggest veggie chunks ever (that’s what happens when you let my husband do the cutting — he called them bite-sized chunks but didn’t specify what species’ bite he was referring to).
The only good thing I can think of that came from Instagram is Celeste Barber.
But I fear that even Celeste Barber’s brilliance can’t overcome the gut-level aversion I have to this platform. Maybe that’s because what makes her work so brilliant is that it’s a subversive meta-criticism of all that Instagram stands for?
By what Instagram stands for I mean:
(Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. I really don’t like Instagram.)
Social Media gets criticized often, and for good reason. And yet, I do get something out of most social media networks I’m on:
Medium: hey, I know I’m preaching to the choir here but Medium is pretty swell and gets you in contact with a bunch of great, thoughtful people, once you get past all the productivity porn (typical advice: get up at 5 a.m., take a cold shower, followed by a focused waterboarding session with your friendly CIA-certified productivity coach because life is utterly meaningless).
Twitter: yes, there’s the whole death/rape threat & hate speech thing that’s rather unsavory but at the very least, Twitter’s great when it comes to following recent events (or reading the tweets of interesting people or getting in contact with interesting people).
Pinterest: the lovechild of Social Media and a Search Engine, without flame wars — what’s not to love about it?
YouTube: great Search Engine which probably contains more wisdom than the Alexandria library ever did — just never, ever, ever read the comments. Ever. Have I made myself clear? (Also, say goodbye to privacy…)
Tumblr: don’t use it myself but fun memes. Found great poetry quotes on it (yes, to my own surprise I apparently like poetry). The koala of Social Networks? Cuddly and harmless?
Facebook: in exchange for giving up your privacy, it gets you in contact with the whole world. Facebook is actually quite tolerable once you eliminate your newsfeed and remove the app from your phone.
Here’s what I get out of Instagram:
I mean, if us Social Media users are going to sell our souls (or rather, our privacy* and our attention) to the devil, we might as well get our money’s worth, right? That’s the realpolitik of being a digital citizen in the 21st century.
(*As they say, if you’re not paying, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.)
And, for most Social Media, I’m willing to pay the price of admission (although I do think that we should take steps to protect our privacy, especially with Facebook and YouTube).
I don’t get it. I really don’t. (I also don’t get how people can leave Facebook over privacy concerns and continuing to use Instagram which just so happens to be owned by Facebook? As is WhatsApp, in case you were wondering.)
Seriously, who invents a Social Media network where you can’t post [insert strong expletive] links?
My other Social Media usage might be a deal with the devil. (But, hey, literal or, in this case, metaphorical deals with the devil have a long, proud tradition. Robert Johnson, anyone?)
Instagram, on the other hand? Instagram is the devil’s baby spawn, demanding my attention without giving me anything useful in return.
And that’s just not acceptable.