Every now and then I get a message from one of my contacts asking me why I’m not uploading more photos to my Instagram. Last year when Instagram announced they are getting rid of “likes” I decided to stop posting until they really do. They didn’t, and I did post. I really do like taking pictures, but these following illustrations were my last uploads there, because (like probably many of you) I grew tired of myself scrolling infinite supply of memes, too beautiful people, irrelevant “influencing” people, and the user interface changes that are -under Facebook’s supervision- making our beloved network a cheap virtual mall filled with crap we don’t really need.
One of the reasons I don’t want to be part of this network anymore is how Instagram - the Facebook company, mind you again - handles the data of its users. Or more specifically, how it mines our data. They’ve became the most valued currency online, because the more data, the better the ads you are served, and therefore more profits for those serving you those ads. If you don’t pay for using a product, you’re a product.
Then there is mental health. It is probably no news to anyone reading this that prolonged exposure to social media is linked with higher levels of anxiety, depression, or fear of missing out. They can also foster negative body image and poor sleep habits. Instagram is actually considered the worst platform for mental health, according to numerous researches. So our most beloved app where we could see each other’s casual lives in color has become a monster filled with unreachable body standards, always-looking-and-feeling-good fake personas, and ads either served by so called influencers or the mighty algorithms.
But it’s not just a matter of a distorted shape or form of the product, it’s also a matter of how the content itself, even from people I like, has shifted. Now Instagram is an opportunity for self promotion, both in the sense of Here’s something I made (a tattoo, a design idea, a painting, etc.), and in the sense of a narcissistic cult of personality, and that’s where you’ll find accounts made entirely of selfies and announcements of upcoming live videos. I appreciate the former type of self promotion; the latter, err…
Obsession with getting likes and boosting our fragile existences can lead to various outcomes. Either massive amount of waste produced just to get a nice picture with lots of balloons, or massive amounts of tourists exploiting the most beautiful parts of our world. There are countless examples all over the world, but what’s connecting them is the vanishing of the very reason people came to take that picture - either the places are eroding under the masses of people, closures because of safety concerns, or over-tourism leading to displacement of communities that were once vibrant.
So while narcissistic, collagen-selling influencers thrive on Instagram, body-positive or queer-positive profiles get banned or deleted because of vague and ever-changing “community guidelines”, resulting in less content there that I actually like.
Apart from my personal preferences and my hate for Facebook, it is undeniable how profoundly and for the worse Facebook has changed Instagram over the years. Remember when the feed actually made sense because it was in chronological order? Remember when the Explore feed wasn’t sucking your brain but showing you relevant pictures? Or when there was no fucking “shop now” button? And don’t get me started on Reels.
I’m wondering if Instagram’s transformation at the hands of Facebook has perhaps poisoned the well for good, so that it’s now more difficult to create a social network where people just share stuff for the fun of it, without thinking about other purposes, without egocentrism and the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. And with that, I’m signing off. You can contact me through old fashioned email, phone, or in person (yeah ikr wow!) - all contacts are on my web, and while you are here, feel free to look for jurajkusy.com/gram now and then, I might start putting up some pics with stories there
One more note - as I’ve mentioned a few times already, Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is a criminal enterprise ruled by sociopaths responsible for much worse shit than mentioned here. What shit? Read more at jurajkusy.com/facebook