Instagram. What an absolutely fascinating place. Despite not being a user of platform until recently, I’ve been secretly admiring the filters on Instagram for some time. I saw people’s Insta posts dotted around in other locations on the internet and hatched a theory that the filters can make any old crap look good. Like, really, any old random, unimportant, aesthetically jarring rubbish. You don’t even need the slightest inkling of photography skills, just a phone and the urge to take photos of, well, whatever you darn well please. Whoever made those filters is a Goddamn genius. GENIUS, I tell you.
I’ve tried and failed to recreate them in Photoshop on multiple occasions. I speculate the existence of a contract between Instagram* and the illuminati to make the filters impossible to reproduce. I know almost nothing about the illuminati but I do know this: their mysterious, triangular powers can distort the physics of light and therefore the way RGB colour is represented on phone and computer screens, which means that should our old friend Instagram have some kind of formula concocted by illuminati scientists to create a new series of colours on their platform that don’t exist anywhere else, they would be able to make filters that are impossible to reproduce. It’s really the only explanation. I prophesise a new molecule will be discovered in a few years as a result of this witchcraft, after the contract becomes public knowledge and Instagram is forced to reveal the particulars of its relationship with the illuminati and distance itself from the organisation. I could go on about the IG filters for this entire post but I’m aware it’s probably not interesting to anyone apart from me so let’s move swiftly on.
The next fascinating object of inquiry is the behaviour on the ‘gram. If sociologists (and I mean actual academics, not couch sociologists like me) aren’t studying this stuff already, they should. If you’re reading this you’re probably already aware of Instagram, but I’ll quickly get everyone up to speed in case you happen to be a space explorer from the far reaches of our galaxy supercluster (if you are; welcome) or, perhaps, my Dad. Instagram falls under the scope of ‘social media’, which is an umbrella term for platforms on the internet that are used to portray oneself online and network with other people. Instagram is a platform for sharing photos and is therefore geared toward photography. You ‘follow’ people to see their photos and they can ‘follow’ you.
With social media it’s possible to create an entire parallel life where you choose your friends (whether they’re people you know in the flesh or not) use photos that represent you in a particular way (or aren’t even photos of you!) and adopt a persona that differs mildly or wildly from your day-to-day self. This is the case on all forms of social media and everyone who uses it is at least subconsciously aware of the fact but I think over on Instagram this behaviour is on steroids. The filters are partially responsible, as their knack for making any old crap look good means anyone can make his or her life look cool, exciting and fun even if the total opposite is actually the case. Take a photo of your breakfast and add a filter and a caption about lifestyle – healthy living or how to kick ass or something along those lines – and you have yourself the classic Instagram post. And people love it. They eat that stuff up (pun intended). Yet, along the way we all forget that it’s literally a photo of porridge. Plain old boring porridge. Nothing exciting or groundbreaking.
It is so easy to buy into this false reality when scrolling through the ‘gram. I don’t know about you, but it makes me question my existence and wonder why my life is so dull, my clothes rubbish and why my hair simply will not cooperate. The thing is, those incredible travel photos or lifestyle shots or whatever are just one tiny moment in that person’s life; they probably took 150 photos to get the one shot, it’s highly edited, staged and planned, and and just out of the shot there are four wheelie bins, stray dogs humping and a six lane highway. Everyone has to do boring stuff in life (a topic I already covered) like the washing up and waiting in traffic, and even the apparently flawless girls of Instagram snore in their sleep and have a bowel movement every so often. Think of that next time the ‘gram causes you to question your own life. It’s all fake. I’m so bored of it.
After this scathing discussion it may surprise you to learn that I set up my own Instagram account. I’d like to say it’s purely for research purposes but it’s not, and I’d like to tell you that I don’t enjoy it but the reality is I think it’s great. It’s another creative outlet for me and there’s an audience out there. A big audience. It’s pushing me to do more with my ideas and get them out there into the glorious, bewildering abyss that is the internet. But I do not, and I will never, use it to brag about my life or make it look cooler or more interesting than it really is. I prefer to use it to take the piss out of things. I aim to keep it real, here on the blog, on other social media, and definitely on the ‘gram. Feel free to hold me accountable to that.
I suppose this is where I tell you what my IG handle is so you can follow me. Or maybe I won’t.
* Well, Facebook, I guess, seeing as they’re the scoundrels behind the ‘gram. Although is that really surprising? Facebook and the illuminati? I think we’ll all be shocked silly if Mark Zuckerburg turns out not to be at least related to lizards – second cousins or whatever. I’m gunna say probably 40% lizard and perhaps a bit Irish.
I had a go at applying the Insta filters to boring things and, well, the photos look pretty good: