i uploaded my first video to vimeo nine years ago today. it was in the vein of early meme-manufacturing. at the time, i referred to it as a "gimmick." i recorded myself saying, "how you doing blogosphere? today is halloween. have a happy halloween." then i autotuned this recording. then i recorded a video of myself, shirtless, in my freshman year dorm room at nyu, lip-syncing to this recording. i posted it on my blog, which i later converted via html to my main website: davidfishkind.com.
blogging meant a great deal to me. i met artists and writers, some of whom ended up among my closest friends, collaborators, etc. for years to follow. the comments section of blogs became an early form of social media, before there was much interaction to be had on facebook.
when facebook became more interactive, i started using it more. around the same time, i got a twitter.
with the instant gratification and streamlined networking of twitter, blogs started to fade, and eventually became sort of obsolete. people did not want to read as many words to see how someone was doing on the internet, i think. they wanted, like, a glimpse or a glimmer of what someone was up to, amid many other glimpses and glimmers of what other related or otherwise personally-significant people were up to, which was organized on a feed.
twitter became, like, a way to attract attention through as little content as possible. it was somewhat the opposite of blogging in that way. where bloggers garnered a following through establishing an ideology through perspective, position, investigation, essentially through proving you had something worth reading about, twitter users garnered a following through brand, rapid or evolving character development, nonsense, anger, wit, and surprise.
if blogging was about "legitimacy" somehow, twitter celebrated irrelevancy, and irreverence. it was exciting. i understand why it took off so much. and i understand why it paved the way for instagram to take off even harder. instagram stripped away even the idea of having a position or development of ideas. instagram is pure brand.
i remember at a party in 2012, someone looking at my phone, at my instagram page, and telling me that i needed to make it look more appealing, not photo-by-photo, but as a collage, from the view of the thumbnail grid, if i wanted to get more followers. what the person was telling me was that instagram was not a place to meet people through shared interests, but through a shared objective of self-identification. basically, instagram made it so the social aspect of social media was eroded to the point of almost nonexistence.
this too was exciting! an app/website designed almost exclusively for the purpose of aesthetic-driven self-aggrandizement. this was totally different, and i believe it had its place. i enjoyed it a lot. but i think, for whatever reason, this self-obsession space was not, under these parameters alone, proving lucrative enough.
thus we witnessed the rise of the dm, which, for a certain demographic, more or less killed off the appeal of facebook entirely. (this was fine, from the silicon valley monopoly standpoint, because by then facebook had long-owned instagram.) even more sinister, however, was the introduction and proliferation of the stories feature.
i never had snapchat, but i guess they'd had this going on for a while already. i don't know if it was ever so damaging as it seems to have become on instagram, but sldfjlsdjflskdjflksjflkdjsfdlkjsd (i don't care)...
stories, for a few reasons, came to make instagram feel like an untenable place for me. first, as an idea, it encourages instagram users to post more often, to post constantly in fact, and pushes the cuteness of add-ons, to include location, time, weather, people you're with, stuff folks might never have considered to include otherwise.
as a viewer, then, you're offered more information than you ever were previously, and are hereby rewired to expect this amount of information, and even to feel ripped-off when you don't get it.
as an added bonus, the user who posted these stories can see exactly who has interacted with these posts, as the viewers appear in a scrolling list, in real-time, as they see them.
in essence, instagram has set-up a system that encourages people to keep tabs on their friends, family, people they admire, and people they resent. and it rewards its users for creating content that is then trackable by these peers in turn. many people get anxious about who has or hasn't viewed their stories. in many cases, people become insulted, angry, depressed, obsessive-compulsive, unstable, upset.
this has happened to me, and i've watched it happen to a great deal of people who i care about. i deleted instagram for two and a half weeks, and i felt perfectly fine not having it. in fact, i believe i felt better, and i used my free time more wisely. today, i re-downloaded it, out of a mix of curiosity and jealousy, wanting to know what other people were up to, and wanting access to what other people had. quickly, i found myself regressing to a shame cycle of time-wasting, anxiety, and self-criticism.
before stories, people never really knew who was looking at their stuff. they knew who liked their stuff, but not who lurked it, or, maybe more remarkably, didn't lurk it! that ignorance was, like the old trope avers, helpful for people.
which is spooky!
anyway, probably going to delete my instagram again. idk.