Unpopular opinion: Instagram has become a visual “dumpster.” Now, who’s with me on this?!
There are times in life when you wonder: “How long are they gonna keep up this charade?” And this is exactly what I’m thinking about Instagram lately. I often wonder whether it was due to such close proximity… As a social media person, I am immersed 24/7 into this fine platform, and maybe, just maybe, objectivity has left the building.
You might not believe me, but many of the media outlets have proved me right over time, with headlines reading almost weekly: “THIS is the new controversial trend on Instagram” and “Has the selfie game gone too far this time?” or “Girl, aged 12, dies after taking extreme selfie“.
I vaguely remember the days when searching for great images was “easy peasy lemon squeezy,” and you could instantly separate the “pleb” from the “real deal.” I remember when @whatts.on and @love.watts came out – two of the first and insanely popular curatorial accounts on Instagram. It was an interesting time to say the least. My former boss asked me at the time, if I’d seen their work, because “their shit is everywhere,” and I’d found that a bit rude since they were doing a good job.
But how the mighty have fallen.
2017 is the year (for digital people) to accept that 200K, 700K, 1,5M and/or verified profiles don’t necessarily equal quality, and won’t guarantee an exceptional place for visual and aesthetic exploration. It’s not a secret, of course, that monetisation makes curation go round, so when the motives are removed, something’s got to give. It’s a no-brainer that this reflects on the numbers, and numbers don’t lie.
Engagement shows the true appeal of compromised content, and quite frequently the juggernauts of Instagram have images of 10K and 50K likes, sitting side by side. Sure, both gather hearts in the five figures, but when the one is barely 1/5 of the other on a steady basis, it makes you wonder how far your buck went.
And that’s only the one side of the coin. Jumping on the other, we have users who have the nose for what makes the mass’s hearts flutter and go to great lengths to “make ‘fetch’ happen”.
Now, with all that said, no one can point a finger and preach, when the route of the platform is an overly complicated one to break down, and re-orientate.
What we can’t deny though, is that the way to inspirational content is not on Google Maps anymore, and now we’re stuck with over-the-top and overly-done #oddlysatisfying videos of glittery slime, wavy eyebrows (FFS), belfies in the great outdoors, just for the ‘gram, and a series of the same exotic destinations (somehow, *everyone* ended up vacationing in Greece and the Amalfi coast this summer – what a coincidence you guys), same nu-flatlays, same fashion inspo courtesy of the same PRs, over and over again.
It’s a digital Groundhog Day on there – but without Bill Murray.
One spark of hope I encountered quite a while ago, came from stylist and awesome human, Anna Trevelyan – who, speaking about inspiration, talked about how she needed to look away from everything because everyone was looking at the same things, regramming the same old pictures, and was getting the same inspiration. Ever since I started looking at content with new eyes, detecting enormous amounts of “sameness” and even turning to more aesthetically disturbing users who challenge the platform’s status quo.
A “loud” example is @matieresfecales, who are not for the faint-of-heart and visually shake you and dislocate you from the safe and yawn-inducing environment mainstream content has created… You feel me?
TL;DR: Instagram content is “kicking a dead horse,” and we should all reboot our inspiration to start thinking out of the box, before our eyes die of boredom. Also, let’s face it, Instagram can’t afford Bill Murray, can it?