On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines

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Her research found that social media is a gathering place for discussing the logistics of gender — providing advice, reassurance and emotional support, as well as soliciting feedback about everything from voice modulation to hairstyles. The internet is a place where nonbinary people can learn about mixing masculine and feminine elements to the point of obscuring concrete identification as either. As one person she interviewed put it, “Every day someone can’t tell what I am is a good day.”

Nearly everyone Darwin interviewed remarked about the power of acquiring language that spoke to their identity, and they tended to find that language on the internet. But Harry Barbee, a nonbinary sociologist at Florida State University who studies sex, gender and sexuality, cautioned against treating social media as a curative. “When the world assumes you don’t exist, you’re forced to define yourself into existence if you want some semblance of recognition and social viability, and so the internet and social media helps achieve this,” Barbee said. “But it’s not a dream world where we are free to be you and me, because it can also be a mechanism for social control.” Barbee has been researching what it means to live as nonbinary in a binary world. Social media, Barbee said, is “one realm where they do feel free to share who they are, but they’re realistic about the limitations of the space. Even online, they are confronted by hostility…

 

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Quitting Instagram: She’s one of the millions disillusioned with social media. But she also helped create it.

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But Richardson isn’t a bystander reckoning with the ills of technology: She was one of the 13 original employees working at Instagram in 2012 when Facebook bought the viral photo-sharing app for $1 billion. She and four others from that small group now say the sense of intimacy, artistry and discovery that defined early Instagram and led to its success has given way to a celebrity-driven marketplace that is engineered to sap users’ time and attention at the cost of their well-being.

“In the early days, you felt your post was seen by people who cared about you and that you cared about,” said Richardson, who left Instagram in 2014 and later founded a start-up. “That feeling is completely gone for me now.”

Even in Silicon Valley, where it’s common to hear start-up workers become frustrated with management after an acquisition, the disillusionment of the early Instagram employees is striking: People seldom swear off or criticize the product they built, particularly when it has enjoyed such remarkable success. Instagram reached 1 billion users this year.

On Instagram, 11,696 Examples of How Hate Thrives on Social Media

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…A search on Instagram, the photo-sharing site owned by Facebook, produced a torrent of anti-Semitic images and videos uploaded in the wake of Saturday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The Instagram posts demonstrated a stark reality. Over the last 10 years, Silicon Valley’s social media companies have expanded their reach and influence to the furthest corners of the world. But it has become glaringly apparent that the companies never quite understood the negative consequences of that influence nor what to do about it — and that they cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

“Social media is emboldening people to cross the line and push the envelope on what they are willing to say to provoke and to incite,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “The problem is clearly expanding.”

Teens Are Being Bullied ‘Constantly’ on Instagram

A woman stares at her phone in bed.

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Because bullying on your main feed is seen by many as aggressive and uncool, many teens create hate pages: separate Instagram accounts, purpose-built and solely dedicated to trashing one person, created by teens alone or in a group. They’ll post bad photos of their target, expose her secrets, post screenshots of texts from people saying mean things about her, and any other terrible stuff they can find.

Sometimes teens, many of whom run several Instagram accounts, will take an old page with a high amount of followers and transform it into a hate page to turn it against someone they don’t like. “One girl took a former meme page that was over 15,000 followers, took screencaps from my Story, and Photoshopped my nose bigger and posted it, tagging me being like, ‘Hey guys, this is my new account,’” Annie said. “I had to send a formal cease and desist. I went to one of those lawyer websites and just filled it out. Then she did the same thing to my friend.”

 

The Teens Who Rack Up Thousands of Followers by Posting the Same Photo Every Day

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Every day for more than a year, Joey, a 15-year-old high-school student, has logged on to Instagram and posted the exact same photo of Otis, a cartoon cow from the children’s TV show Back at the Barnyard, to an account that now has almost 30,000 followers.

“For the first couple weeks, the account was only followed by my friends mostly, and a few other people I didn’t know,” said Joey, who, like all the teenagers quoted in this story, asked to be referred to by his first name only. “Over time, it just started to grow crazy amounts of followers, so I started to get committed and continue to run it.”

“Same photo every day” accounts are a subgenre of interest-based “daily” accounts, dedicated to posting one thing within a set theme every day. But over the past year, they’ve become more popular. “It’s just trendy now,” said Lily, a 19-year-old who posts the same photo of her friend every day.

The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience’

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These places are often described as “Instagram Museums,” and the real experience plays out only after we post photographic evidence on social media. The internet is an increasingly visual space, and these museums, with their enormous pools of candy and gargantuan emoji props, are designed to fit the shrunken-down Instagram grid. What’s the point of anything else?

The central disappointment of these spaces is not that they are so narcissistic, but rather that they seem to have such a low view of the people who visit them. Observing a work of art or climbing a mountain actually invites us to create meaning in our lives. But in these spaces, the idea of “interacting” with the world is made so slickly transactional that our role is hugely diminished. Stalking through the colorful hallways of New York’s “experiences,” I felt like a shell of a person. It was as if I was witnessing the total erosion of meaning itself. And when I posted a selfie from the Rosé Mansion saying as much, all of my friends liked it.

Instagram’s in love with bare-faced brutalism – and so am I

Preston bus station

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Has Instagram saved brutalist architecture? That theory has been put forward by the editor of Phaidon’s new Atlas of Brutalist Architecture, which surveys nearly 1,000 bare-faced concrete structures around the world. Editor Virginia McLeod attributes the style’s resurgence to the assiduous hashtagging of the Instagram community – nearly half a million #brutalism posts and counting. “I noticed more and more interest in brutalist architecture,” McLeod told Bloomberg last week. “People were excited about it and loved the graphic quality of it.”

I would have to argue there’s more to it than that – the “it” being both brutalism’s revival and appreciation of architecture in general. Brutalism’s newfound Instagram popularity is potentially just as superficial as what made it unpopular in the first place.