Let’s just be clear about one thing: I’m not a Luddite. At least I didn’t used to be one.
I’ve been an early adopter from my first AOL account (1993) to my love affair with Netscape (1995) to my Nerve.com profile (1999). I abandoned Friendster for Myspace before most of my IRL friends had ever heard the word “avatar.” My Facebook profile was born in 2007. First status: “Stefanie Iris Weiss is terrified of Sarah Palin and plotting ways to destroy her.” (The first status says much about the kind of person you were when you joined.)
We all have our particular predilections when it comes to social media.
When I joined Twitter in 2009, I didn’t quite get it. (I had a book coming out and the PR team required a full social media blitz.) Despite my reservations, I took to it like an eager sparrow to seed. Sharing observations in 140 characters sometimes felt like making tiny poems: It wasn’t all about posting what I was about to eat for lunch. For a politics-obsessed news addict like me, it was quite a dreamy immersion in self-curated reportage. I tweeted early and often.
But in late 2011, I started hearing about this newfangled thing those crazy kids were calling “Instagram.” I caved to peer pressure. First post:
I was out of my element. Obviously it should have been “70s porn pussy,” but I was too busy adjusting filters to get that right. What was Kelvin and why did I need it in my life? I had no idea that I was supposed to add #catsofinstagram #cat #cats #cutecat #mycat #catsarethebest #catladiesrule #alwayscats.
In the three years since my initial lame attempt, I have posted on Instagram a paltry 48 times, and each time it’s felt like a root canal. (Let’s compare that to my nearly 10k roll-off-the-tongue tweets.) I tweet as I think, with little artifice. I ‘gram like I’ve been imprisoned by app-wielding Silicon Alley Millennials and have a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome.
Here’s how posting on Instagram goes in my head: “Here’s this beautiful/weird/interesting thing I’m actually experiencing in mind/body. Ooh, ahh…I’m really enjoying this. But shut the front door. Shouldn’t I be photographing this not just for posterity, but so my followers don’t think I’m dead?”
Maybe the problem is that in all social media, I’m not necessarily aiming for likes, favorites or rows of red hearts. I don’t mind them, of course, but I’m just not particularly hungry for them: They don’t motivate my posts. (Yes, I know I’m doing it wrong.)
Herein lies the strange territory we humans inhabit in 2015: We are all brands, even if we don’t want to be. My social media presence is an odd mix of random observations, stuff I’m reading, entreaties to David Duchovny to be the Rilke to my young poet, live tweets of rallies, and whatever’s going on in my professional life.
Tweeting is natural: Here’s my thought bubble, do with it what you will. It’s an excuse to experiment with observational, self-deprecating comedy—and fail. Like last week when I tweeted this:
I love living in NYC. But not when I'm assaulted by a wet, slimy plastic bag & then a wind gust blows up my dress as strangers watch & laugh
— Stefanie Iris Weiss (@EcoSexuality) June 9, 2015
But what the hell do you want from me, Instagram? I really, really don’t want to see your tuna roll, your vegan bánh mì or your #bikinibody right now. And must I be subjected to 4,597 different images of the same exact sunset that I just saw over the Hudson with my actual eyes?
The worst is when an image is tagged with millions of hashtags that sound like they were born (and died) at a Topanga Canyon yoga retreat: #miracles #everydayisprecious #blessed #grateful #gratitude #purehappiness #om #lovingmylife.
#OHPLEASE. Just admit that you and Kimye have the same agenda: marketing your wares. If you’re a photographer, I totally respect you. I like looking at your pretty pictures because you’re trying to make art. Instagram is GREAT for photogs. But the rest of us, maybe not so much. OK, maybe just me. Ancient, old, decrepit, totally confused by this sickening, vacuous, selfie-obsessed era me.
I must accept that we live in a hyper-visual world, and as a word-besotted person over 40, I may never really fit in again. Don’t even get me started on Pinterest. And GIFs. Please, my god, somebody stop the GIFs.
Now, of course, you must go follow me on Instagram.