Saturday, 1 March 2014

Instagram? Instagash, more like.

I get Facebook. I do. It's not just about pictures, it's also (sometimes) about words. I have some friends who are genuinely very amusing in their status updates. They sometimes make me actually chortle. I have others who share stuff I'm interested in and, all in all, I get it.

I sort of get Twitter. I've only ever regularly used it for work purposes and marketing shenanigans. Otherwise, I get a bit bored. I did go and attempt to get back into it the other day. Someone asked me if I'd been hacked as I was apparently being 'random'. I thought that's what Twitter was for. But apparently not.

Instagram though. Nah. I just don't get it. I finally joined a while back. I've been resisting Vine (because I'm not clever enough to be hilarious in seven seconds. Six seconds. Whatever), Snapchat (I don't need to see your face every time you have something to say) and the myriad social networks that are apparently a thing but I became intrigued by Instagram due to people I know cross posting to Facebook.

When I say intrigued, I mean vaguely interested every now and again.

So I joined.

I put up a profile picture and I filled in the tiny bit where you can actually use words to say something. It's a thing I've noticed about social media and dating sites. The space for words and interesting stuff has become tinier and tinier. The space for pictures - usually of yourself - has become massiver and massiver.

So, we started with Facebook where people quickly learned that statuses about their feelings weren't welcome but hilarious bon mots are. Where people strive to outdo each other with how liberally political they are or how very amusing they are. Where lives are airbrushed and everyone's a comedian. But at least we get to use words.

Twitter is this but even more so. Now you don't have to bother with all the other stuff, you can just spaff out hilarious, witty, clever titbits every five seconds and suck up the validation of favourites and retweets. You can participate in the novel ability to talk directly to celebs, or at least, directly to their PR run account. You can feel like you're actually friends with major stars because they're bound to have read your really funny and clever Tweet. I mean, they won't say anything because they'd make all their other fans jealous, but clearly you're on the same wavelength.

It's also genuinely useful for news and shizzle. Hashtags make sense on Twitter. Something happening that you want to know about? Search the hashtag. That's a thing I can get on board with.

Hashtags on Instagram. Oh dear. I don't know if it's because the vast majority of selfie taking narcissists don't understand what the hashtags are for, or whether they just want to give their eager followers every single chance to see every single selfie. I saw a girl with the usual pursed lips, tits out shot. Her hashtags were things like: #selfie #blue #eyes #girl #followtofollow #instafollow #sexie #babe. So someone's going to go and search 'blue'? Why would anyone do that? That makes NO SENSE.

None of it makes any sense. It doesn't make sense to me when people post multiple selfies every day. All with the same expression. Why would you do that? Hey - you look exactly the same when you're tired/excited/posing/asleep. I don't even know how you do that, but your facial expression NEVER changes. And yet these are the kinds of posts on Instagram that get thousands of likes.

Now you don't have to be funny, clever, witty, inventive or even that good looking. You just need to tap into the apparently endless maw of people just waiting to give the thumbs up (or heart or whatever it is) to your next photo. Of yourself.

My grandma would have loved selfies. She was a wicked old woman and when I went to see her just before she died (for the first time in years) she was living in a care home. Her husband had died a couple of years earlier. Her son (my dad) had died 8 years earlier. She has two grandchildren and a daughter in law who would have given her the world. But how did she end up? Living in a nice flat with loads of pictures on the walls, of course. Of herself. Not of her family. Not of her only child. Not of the husband she lived with for 60 years. But of herself.

That's what she wanted all along you see. Just reflections of herself. Everyone existed in order to reflect back to her what she wanted to see and hear. She was narcissistic to a disturbingly high level and I can't help but think she'd adore Instagram.

I've been told that there are many other ways to use it and, if you follow the right kinds of accounts, then it can be really cool. I can see how that could happen. And I've had a go at searching for things I might find interesting. I've been stymied every time by the endless selfies. I have been known to take the odd one, one has to for internet dating purposes if nothing else, but when people take pictures of themselves at every moment, it's freaking weird.

Talking of which, apps like Tinder have taken the concept of internet dating and distilled it down to one thing. Yep, you've guessed it. A photograph. Of course seeing what people look like is important - vital, even - for internet dating. No one is going to go on a date with someone whose face they haven't seen. But to take it down to just one pic - swipe right for yes and left for no - is fucking depressing.

No one even needs to construct sentences any more. Just get your tats out and some dude somewhere will send you a dick pic. It's just so fulfilling.

Fucking people.

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