Since the new Instagram doesn’t appeal to anyone, maybe it’s time to move away from it.

Since the new Instagram doesn't appeal to anyone, maybe it's time to move away from it.

“Instagram really sucks now?” It’s a question my sister first asked me a month ago, and one that quickly spread across the web, making headlines this week following our social media dilettante’s statement, Kylie Jenner. “GIVE US BACK THE OLD INSTAGRAM”, the billionaire pleaded in an all-caps story posted on the app. “I just want to see cool pictures of my friends,” added in smaller print.

In fact, the app has become almost unbearable lately, chock-full of “Reels” videos, sponsored ads, and weird little “suggested posts” from unknown accounts. Though the latter are generated by custom algorithms, the ones that clutter my feed seem completely random: myriads of blondes whipping up vegan salads, raving mammals, spectacular makeovers of homes totally out of my league in cities I’ve never set foot in. Those who want to see “cool photos” of their friends must first navigate through this maze.

Of course, this change is tactical, marking Instagram’s desire to favor video and thus function more like its wildly popular competitor, TikTok. Jenner and the other critics of the new version are right: Instagram sucks right now.

The days when Instagram
his name was Burbn

But in fact, this is nothing new. During the first months of its existence in 2010 the app was called Burbn and their service offerings were a pretty confusing mix: you could “check in” to certain places, earn points by hanging out with other users, and post photos of yourself in their company. The app’s developers soon discovered that most people only used Burbn to post photos, so they limited it to that feature (plus some filters to make these photos prettier) and renamed it by combining the terms “instant camera” and “telegram”.

I created an account when I graduated from college and my first post was a profile picture of an ugly gingerbread house I had decorated. I didn’t understand how to rotate the image (or build a gingerbread house, apparently) but I didn’t really care. One person liked the post. Too good person.

Those early days were probably the golden age of Instagram: low stakes, low engagement. I was posting photos of my friends, my cats, and some particularly scenic hikes. And I’d appreciate harmless comments, like “I miss you!” Y “Too pretty!” photos of the same style posted by my friends. At a time when Facebook was colonized by the multi-level marketing schemes of my high school friends and the dubious political statements of distant relatives, my circle of friends and I turned to Instagram. The app served its purpose: to allow us to stay in touch.

Instagram has become
a more toxic environment
where we not only publish
selfies and memes

But if there’s a world where a popular app can thrive by performing a single, simple function, it’s not ours. Instagram was soon acquired by Meta (then Facebook) for the astronomical sum of one billion dollars. instagram gave a verb Startups flocked to help influencers grow your posts —Perfectly ordinary people began to advertise clothing and makeup to their friends, gradually reaching a sizable audience.

Then the algorithm started reward high cheekbones, flawless skin and luscious to sickly lips. All of this has had a drastic effect: Instagram has become a more toxic environment, where you no longer just post selfies and memes, but can get into parasocial relationships with celebrities, feed complexes, and see ads for cheap facelifts.

consume with
(great) moderation

For my part, I began to distance myself long before we arrived. My account is private, I only accept invitations from people I know (or “I know” in the broad sense that the term has acquired in the digital age). I follow some ballet companies to keep up with shows and some brands to keep up with promotions (how else would I know when to heat up the credit card at J. Crew?). I’m a single fitness influencer and only because I actually do the exercises she suggests (and, I’ll admit, her baby is too cute). I have a little system to stay in control: I don’t have the app on my phone’s home screen, so when I log in, it’s a deliberate decision, which I usually make when I have to queue.

I am not an Internet ascetic, however, and I see the interest of social networks, on a professional and personal level. But I know that for me social networks in their current version must be consumed with the utmost moderation. I had to unfollow Emily Ratajkowski, for example, because standing in line at Walgreens with a prescription for an acne gel while she looked at pictures of her rock-hard abs and her vacations on private beaches made me bitter. It has nothing to do with @EmRata (who is probably adorable) and everything to do with me, but hey. In my bad times, sometimes I even struggle to find the energy to rejoice for the people I really love.

That little time I spend on the app (a few minutes a week scrolling through the news and browsing my friends’ stories) is enough to know who’s getting engaged and who’s buying a house; who has a baby and is launching a book (and who, unlikely, has a baby and is launching a book at the same time). I’ve learned to avoid checking the app if I’m not in the mood to comment on its good news by clicking on the heart.

I am not an isolated case. Selena Gomez, who is one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram –by definition, one of the most visually attractive–, explains that for several years, the invasive side of the application prompted her to disconnect: “I was tired of seeing other people’s lives. After this decision, I felt instantly liberated.” (It is assumed that you now have a computer that feeds your news feed).

Who is the app for now? Whether Kylie Jenner herself is really upset about the new UI or not, she has a more obvious reason for wanting Instagram to favor the “good pictures”. She and her sisters have long used the platform to sell their products and images (which, in a sense, are also products). Her inability to master the new form of short videos promoted by Instagram risks diminishing her influence. But that influence could still be strong enough to get them there: In the days after Jenner’s post, the company’s shares fell 3%.

In a video cleverly consensual, Instagram head Adam Mosseri promised he’d stay “compromise” towards users. But the wrong version of the app won long ago. Perhaps it is today’s users who should break their commitment to Instagram.

#Instagram #doesnt #appeal #time #move

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