The Unbearable Lightness of Being Yourself on Social Media

Illustration by Karlssonwilker Inc

Excerpt from this article on Kottke, which was inspired by this article in the New York Times:

I wonder if Snapchat’s intimacy is entirely due to the ephemerality and lack of a “fave-based economy”. Blogs, Flickr, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram all started off as places to be yourself, but as they became more mainstream and their communities developed behavioral norms, the output became more crafted and refined. Users flooded in and optimized for what worked best on each platform. Blogs became more newsy and less personal, Flickr shifted toward professional-style photography, Vine got funnier, and Twitter’s users turned toward carefully crafted cultural commentary and link sharing.

Now, as Wortham notes, Instagram is largely a place to put your heavily curated best foot forward. But scroll back through time on anyone’s Instagram and the photos get more personal and in-the-moment. Even Alice Gao’s immaculately crafted feed gets causal if you go back far enough.

…It’ll be interesting to see if [Snapchat] can keep its be-yourself vibe or if users tending toward carefully constructing their output is just something that happens as a platform matures.

 

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Facebook etiquette – some simple guidelines

CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses during the Facebook f8 conference

Excerpt from this article:

…Here’s our handy 10-point etiquette guide to “liking” stuff on social networks.

1 | Holiday snaps

Show-offy pics of beaches, infinity pools, sundowner cocktails or hotdog legs – especially if accompanied by a “Not a bad view this morning” or “My office for the week” caption – should, on no account, be liked. It just encourages them. Instead, leave a “Don’t worry about the weather forecast and try to enjoy yourself!”-style comment to induce anxiety and dial down their smugness.

2 | How far they’ve just run/swum/cycled

Use the comments to remind them they used to be fun. Follow with a winky face emoji to pretend you’re joking.

 

China Shares Its Loneliness

A man sits alone holding a bunch of balloons

Excerpt from this article:

A popular hashtag in China #WhatIsYourLoneliestPhoto is raising that very question [of what loneliness looks like] on the popular social media platform Weibo. Thousands of people have responded by posting images which they think capture loneliness in everyday life.

Although it is unknown what exactly is happening, or has happened, in many of these photos, just by posting them alongside the hashtag #WhatIsYourLoneliestPhoto has reignited the debate about loneliness in China, and especially as experienced by older people.

 

You Already Knew Parents Post on Facebook More Than Others. Now Find Out How Much

Getty Images

Excerpt from this article:

Some of the more interesting findings came from its U.S.-based study. For instance, new American moms post 2.5 times more status updates, 3.5 times more photos and 4.2 times more videos than nonparents, per Facebook’s internal stats. And hey, the updates work: New parents’ posts (those from moms or dads) about their babies get 37 percent more interactions from family members and 47 percent more interactions from friends than their general posts.

“Parenting has become a digitally shared experience… Technology enables parents to share the joys, challenges and questions inherent in raising a child with their family and friends both near and far on a regular basis. Instead of mailing holiday cards or school pictures, they’re sharing their child’s milestones through photos and video online.”

 

A stolen photo of my family was used in a way I never imagined

Pictures of my kids were turned into memes by overzealous Scandal fans

Excerpt from this article:

I’d thought I’d seen it all. That was until a friend and die-hard Scandal fan direct messaged me a photo of my kids’ heads Photoshopped in with Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant. She found it on a Scandal fan page and thought I should know.

…Like many bloggers, I take precautions to copyright my work, add some watermarks and disable right clicks. But sometimes it’s just not enough to deter a photo snatcher. Through the years, my photographs have popped up in interesting places. To name a few:

  •    A stock photo website
  •    A Facebook meme supporting gay marriage
  •    In examples of a poster “multiracial family”
  •    A church flier in South Carolina
  •    Stock Etsy birthday cards
  •    And most recently, that Scandal fan club site

…In all seriousness, it’s more than a little disconcerting. People ask how I am not losing my mind over this, and the truth is, I have. I’ve tracked down and contacted numerous websites and asked for my family’s photos to be removed. I’ve sent a dozen cease and desist letters. Most came down without a response. Some came down with a profuse apology.

When Instagram Culture Ruins a Vacation

Excerpt from this article:

I WAS LEANING against a craggy rock on one of Mallorca’s more out-of-the-way beaches when I noticed a man perched atop a low cliff above the crystalline sea, slowly moving his outstretched hands horizontally from left to right.

“Ooh, that’s so cool,” I said, pointing him out to my girlfriend. “He must be doing tai chi.” Here was a refreshing meditative respite from the tourists with selfie sticks and GoPro video cameras who surrounded us on this unfathomably beautiful beach.

“Oh, wait. Nope—never mind,” I countered a moment later. “He’s taking a panoramic photo on his iPhone.”

We tried to relax but instead found ourselves quietly deriding the people mugging all around us. It wasn’t enough for them to simply snap a photo and have a swim: The entire experience had to be stored in HD and uploaded so that “likes” could be tallied and feelings of vacationer schadenfreude fanned. “It’s like all the people I unfollowed on social media in one place,” my girlfriend said. “If only I could unsubscribe from these people right now.” We had to admit, though, that we found the digitally driven narcissism on display more compelling than the setting.

“The future,” I mused to her, “will be all about finding better ways to shoot photos and videos that nobody will ever want to look at.”

On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real

Illustration by Anna Parini

Excerpt from this article:

What Are Finstagrams, Exactly?

…“Finstas are private accounts that you only let your closest friends follow,” said Amy Wesson, 18, a student at Trinity College who has more than 2,700 Instagram followers and about 50 finstagram followers. “You post things you wouldn’t want people other than your friends to see, like unattractive pictures, random stories about your day and drunk pictures from parties.”

…Backstabbers aren’t unheard-of. Called “finsta snitches,” these people take screen shots of revealing posts and use them for leverage. Ms. López described a situation in her high school in which several students posted compromising photos on their fake accounts that eventually reached the inboxes of authority figures.

Splintering as Self-Preservation

Fake Instagram accounts seem to be a distinct cultural product of people belonging to a generation raised with social media and smartphones. They are used to funneling their self-expression through many platforms, where their peers provide an instant response, much of it cutting. Because of this, finstagram, which is made for an audience of people who are tuned into the user’s point of view, has become, paradoxically, the “real” Instagram.