Wednesday, 26 June 2013

I fail Instagram

For impure and unclear reasons I signed up to Instagram last week. I had to do ("do"? I'm fairly sure that's not the correct verb) Pinterest for work reasons so I thought in a flurry of enthusiasm I would try Instagram too. It's where people I admire sweatily, creepily, from a distance hang out and I wanted to be like them and share desirable retro styled pictures of flat white froth and nail art.

Well! It turns out I fucking hate Instagram. Let me be clear: it's plainly a creation of genius with a powerful and distinct appeal. I can totally see the attraction, indeed I feel that attraction but I also hate myself for it. Of course, there's a thrill to giving my horrible pictures that supernatural glow of desirability through digital magic. With a sprinkling of magic pixel dust, any boring scene can be transformed it seems. How crap does a picture have to be to be Instagram proof? Is there actually any picture too shit for Insta-magic? The sulky bastard side of me wanted to try it out.

The shit Ukkel street scene:

.. becomes gloriously retro-stylish.

Dirty breakfast dishes:

.. even caked on Weetabix looks quaintly appealing in the right light.

Some rubbish on the street:

Like the title sequence in a lesser known Wim Wenders movie. How do you do it, Instagram, you spooky bastard? Or is it rather that we are so attuned to finding Instagram images stylish that some part of our brain automatically characterises the image approvingly without actually analysing it? THAT'S STILL GENIUS.

A receipt that has been on the floor for about 5 weeks that no one ever picks up because we are all animals:


Horrifying fast foods and the lurking Frite Cone of Menace in the background:

Like a Dazed and Confused shoot.

Go on, Instagram you smooth fucker, see what you can do with the crap under the fridge that was uncovered when we shifted it slightly earlier this week:

Yeah, that beat you didn't it? Did it? You know, I'm not even sure it did.

Reasons I hate Instagram:

1. I am not very visual - ie. I have all the aesthetic sensibility of a partially sighted weasel on crack - so I will never be good at it and my posts will look awful and languish despised and unliked until I feel embarrassed and inadequate and furious and delete them.

2. More importantly I rarely go anywhere or do anything or get given anything amazing, so my scope for aspirational shots is very limited. Likely subject matter:
- the kitchen table
- the dog looking pained
- Old El Paso fajita dinner kits
- Yeah, that's about it. You can't really get a flat white in Brussels. Well, that's a lie, you can, but the sole purveyor's froth has been relentlessly Instagrammed by the entire Belgian food scene (12 people) about nine thousand times.

3. I am such a late adopter and techno fool, that I feel completely ridiculous, smashing around at the tiny buttons with my blunt dinosaur arms, while Instagram whispers to me, silkily "I am not for people like you" and shows me a glorious picture of someone's limited edition something I haven't heard of

But mainly:

4. I simply don't have the temperament for making my life look attractive and desirable. It's not that I'm unhappy, very far from it. Admitted, I do enjoy a regular spirited whining session with M, but that doesn't undermine my basic contentment. I'm just.. what is it? Suspicious of overt positivity, I suppose. Wary of drawing attention to good things. It's a facet of my "medieval peasant" character: DO NOT TEMPT THE ONE EYED CROW THAT DECIDES OUR FATE WITH A PICTURE OF YOUR NICE NEW SHOES (ed's note: I do not have any nice new shoes, back off, crow). It just feels wrong.

I don't recommend having the world-view of a medieval peasant: there's nothing good to be said for dragging a grey serge burden of superstitious gloom behind you, like Eeyore trudging through the Hundred Acre Wood, because who would want to be associated with that? No one. Also, everyone thinks you're a relentlessly negative, sneery bastard. I'm not really: there are so many things I love, truly love: food and places and well-upholstered equines (I even wrote a list!) and I actually quite like looking at pictures of other people's lovely things most of the time (unless I'm absolutely consumed with jealousy). Nice things are nice. I do believe it. Even so, I just can't admit to any nice things of my own for fear of being smote down. It's a problematic character trait. I don't think I'm alone in being thus afflicted, but I do get the sense that there are fewer and fewer of us and that soon the last handful of miserable survivors will be despatched to live in the distant caves of relentless negativity, where we will eke out a bleak, joyless existence without kittens or cronuts or Liberty Nike Air Max, moaning wordlessly at each other and scratching sad drawings of dead things on the cave wall with burnt sticks. We don't deserve Instagram. I don't deserve Instagram.


Ellie said...

You are by no means alone. That is my dominant world-view, and I have even infected my husband, to the point that both of us say, when we get on (say) a plane, "It'll be nice to be home-- IF WE MAKE IT HOME." This is not drama, it is simply warding-off. Also, my Facebook feed is composed entirely of personal failures, on the assumption that people would far rather get a laugh out of my utter failure at making chile verde enchiladas than they would like to read about the amazing pecan cookies I made (they were not very amazing, but that seems to be the de rigeur adjective for self-congratulatory Facebook posts).

I think the word self-congratulatory sums it up, actually. I am suspicious of people who do not self-deprecate like mad, and so I sacrifice my (non-existent) public image on the altar of repressive modesty. As a result everybody who knows me thinks I am a total fuck-up who spends her time nearly burning down the house from the kitchen range. I am willing to have that be my public image. It's not so far off.

Anonymous said...

I actually think the crap under the fridge won. Touché, Instagram!

(spits three times to ward off the evil eye)

Wee Birdy said...

Yes but I love you and I love your pics. (Scurrying off to follow you now.) Instagram needs Waffle! Yes it does! Please don't leave. I want pics of Oscar and tortoises and other assorted animals. I want more crap under the fridge. I want Finger's weird Belgian homework. I want more bloody Uccle. Pleeeeeeease stay! Besides, I need you to affirm the cuteness of my kid. X

Wee Birdy said...

Ignore bad spelling/punctuation fuckery. Bit sick.

David Oliver said...

I wasn't aware of the existence of instagram and now that I am - well, shit. I suppose they can make that look pretty. Bully for them. But stay the hell away from me 'cause I want ugly things to look ugly. I'm confused enough already.

cruella said...

I do Instagram as a photo diary. Of course my "amusing" comments and titles invite ... eh, whatever, but that's only one small part of it. Rather coolified Insta photos than no photos at all which is how I've always ended up before.

frau antje said...

It's just another in the long line of now we're all photographers, chefs, designers/architects. I anxiously await the day we can all be lawyers (for so many reasons), but I fear there will never be an app for that...or turning my phone into a taser.

I don't recommend having the world-view of a medieval peasant either, but if you must, welcome to my town.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I like the breakfast dishes and covet your Emma Bridgewater mug. :)

I have an instagram account, and have exactly two followers, one of whom is my son and the other a random woman who "followed" me about two seconds after I posted my first picture. Why???? Now I've somehow been logged out and can't remember my password, so that's the end of instagram for me.

Helen said...

I love your Instagram photos, but not as much as I love your wonderful phrasing. Everything you wrote under reason 4 is perfect - peasant, Eeyore, smiting, cave people.

My experience of Instagram is slight but I both love and distrust it in equal amounts. I hate any and all photos of myself, except the ones that an Instagram-obsessive friend took on our Brussels Christmas Adventure. That slightly hazy glow is most kind. So yay for nice photos but also can't help but think that my face is the equivalent of the breakfast dishes in your photo - they do look ever so pretty but, at the end of the day, take off the filter and it's just washing up.

And re: foodie photos - this made me laugh - Instagramming Strangers' Food Prank:

Jane in SF said...

You have illuminated a foggy feeling I've had that Instagram is a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. And as for revelling in the loveliness of one's children, home, commute, I am so fed up with it I'm almost off facebk. There are advantages to the positivity in the Northern Californian air but without access to your razor sharp observations and humor and the feeling of home I get from Radio Four, I would shrivel up in the excess of perceived loveliness here.

What Possessed Me said...

Oh God, I just joined and am having a TERRIBLE time with it. When I realized that I'm not a stylist, have no access to hand carved wooden spoons/heart-shaped pie tins/bunting made of coffee filters/baby goats/ironic leather onesies, I resorted to taking pictures of my feet like a sullen teenager.

Mystica said...

Loved the post!

Waffle said...

I am so glad I am not alone. We will be fine all together in our cave as long as we don't mention how fine things are.

Ha, P coffee filter bunting made me snort - what is your Instagram handle so we can be sulky together?

kath said...

I apply the medieval peasant test to my clothing. So in Zara I ask myself would a person wear this to fettle a sheep in 9th century? With clogs?

Waffle said...

Kath - Ahahahhaahhahahhaha oh god that made me completely hysterical. Toast catalogue: yes. Zara: mainly no. Cos: fifty fifty.

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