You know that thing when you’re aware things are bad, but you had no idea just how bad?
Like when you take your car for a service and you’re reasonably sure it’s $1000+ bad, but it’s actually http://www.carsales.com.au bad?
Or like when you’re worried that you left the front door unlocked bad but actually you left the oven on and your whole house has burned down bad?
Or like when you think you might’ve forgotten to pack your kid’s lunchbox bad but actually you’ve dropped him off at school on a Saturday, alone and with no lunch, bad?
That’s what it was like when I sat down to write this blog post.
I wanted to write a post about how the use of the word “Instagrammable” annoys me, because it’s a brand, not an adjective.
But before I mouthed off about this English-language interloper, I thought I’d better get my facts straight and do a bit of research via Google. (Also a brand, not a verb).
How long have people been saying this? Am I the only one with a problem with it? What does Urban Dictionary have to say about it?
Imagine my horror, when not only did my search yield no such etymological results, but before I even had the chance to execute the search, the following appeared:
See? So much worse than I thought. Am I feeling lucky, Google? No. No I’m not. I’m feeling really quite depressed about the whole thing.
So apparently ‘Instagrammable’ is a thing and we’re not even debating it anymore.
But these ongoing corporate ambushes on the English language are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the social media behemoth’s impact on the way we live our lives.
What’s truly troubling me is the way that life seems to be shaping itself to be appealing for the sake of Instagram, and not the other way around.
New restaurants and cafes are opening seemingly with the express purpose of looking good with the X-Pro II filter. It’s not even clear whether they serve food.
Tourism websites are providing links to the addresses of all the best street art for the masses to ‘stumble on’ during their travels. Meanwhile, the subversive forefathers of the guerilla art form are turning in their graves.
Bars everywhere are going out of business as the cost of glasses broken by patrons trying to capture that elusive perfect drinking/cheers/Boomerang becomes too prohibitive to go on.
And in the ultimate kick in the teeth, just as the world seems to be cottoning on to these troubling trends, the influencers who were wildly culpable in starting it all, are now making bank by creating content that extols the virtues of the ‘social media detox’ and the benefits of being present and not just ‘doing it for the ‘Gram’.
It’s endlessly frustrating.
Riddle me this: you know how generations before us all smoked, and now with the benefit of hindsight and all our new knowledge we can sit in judgment and say, “How can they not have known how bad it was for them? Tut, tut.”
Is that how my kids are going to feel in fifty years time when they scroll through my Instagram feed? All 18,000 pictures worth?
Meanwhile I’m pacing the nursing home, unable to sit still or focus on my knitting for more than thirty seconds because my mind has been conditioned to expect new content every 4.5 seconds, pausing only to post hilarious Boomerangs with my false teeth?
Full disclosure: I love Instagram. I love the window into my friends’ lives it occasionally provides when I don’t get to see them all the time. I love the fashion/art/food inspiration it can provide when it comes from a place of authenticity. I love the voyeurism allowed by peeping into the lives of famous people whose actual bathroom I’ll likely never have the opportunity to use because of actual organic friendship. I love when someone advertises something to me and I really do want said thing and I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.
(I dislike the inspirational quotes, though. They can beat it.)
The point is, I don’t want Instagram to go away. I do still want to be able to use it to post pictures of me and future my mates at Sherry O’Clock in the nursing home. #nannasgonewild
I just really detest this all-pervasive, existence-altering, manipulation machine it seems to be fast becoming today. The thing that is compelling marketers to engineer unique ‘Instagrammable’ experiences that really only serve to remind us of how nothing is unique and everyone is cynical and also all these things do is create queues and queues are the worst.
Would it be too much to ask Instagram to go back to being that thing we used on the odd occasion when our lives and thoughts were so unique and fabulous that we just couldn’t help but share them?
I want to go back to that time when our actual lives were all the content we needed because frankly, life was pretty good without trying.