It’s 2012. Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ has been on repeat for months. Psy is topping charts with ‘Gangnam Style’.
And I’ve just created an Instagram account.
In 2012, Instagram seemed like this cool new thing to experiment and have fun with. Usernames were some arbitrary combination of words. No one cared about having a curated and aesthetically pleasing feed. And I surly did not expect the platform to become as strictly self-regulated and business focused as it has.
Rather I was, like many, in retrospect posting quite cringy content, back then I wouldn’t have even considered it content, it was simply an image I was posting.
Images were heavily and quite obviously processed with filters Instagram gave users the affordance of using; although not used with the intention of making something look more attractive but simply because it was interesting to experiment with. Quotes and graphic images were stolen and re-posted without much thought. Nothing had any coordination, direction or any critical thought put into it.
I most definitely was no stranger to any of this, not really caring when posting images. All I thought was ‘well that was fun to make, and I like how it came out, let’s share it’. I didn’t take time to consider any negative reactions, long term effects, or even possible engagement and amount of likes the post would garner; as many users to in today’s online environment.
The relationship I have held with Instagram as a platform has drastically changed over the past 8 years, as Instagram and much of the world has evolved into a different space. Digital and networked content is taken much more seriously by the wider public than it was in 2012. I no longer carelessly share whatever I like, as now more than ever I am actively aware that someone will see it. The notion that the internet is forever has been endlessly hammered into me, creating a fear of future repercussions and a regrettable immortality.
“It is not hard to find examples from everyday life where we engage with software in various forms” (Khoo et al, 2017, p.2.)
I would take this idea from week 1’s reading of Software Literacy: Education and Beyond one-step further. Arguing that now whole aspects of our lives are dominated by software and networked environments. Countless hours are spent by countless individuals agonising about all aspects of authoring, publishing and distributing single pieces of content for the online platforms. Outings, meals and events are all now planned for the sole purpose of having content to post on social media that will feed engagement. Simple meals with friends turn into hour long photo shoots, with a disregard to enjoying the food and company. Friendships are damaged due to a seemingly unfavourable photo, or an unliked post.
So much thought is put into every aspect of authoring, publishing and distributing content now, when it used to be such a careless task that anyone could do. Even with the many affordances Instagram grants, users are heavily restricted by newly formed cultural constraints.
I have grown to resent Instagram at times, but really there is no escaping it.
Khoo, E, Hight, C, Torrens, R & Cowie, B 2017, ‘Introduction: Software and other Literacies’ in Software Literacy: Education and Beyond, Springer, Singapore, pp.1-12.