Sunday, June 28, 2015

#What #New #Horror #Is #This

I like to think of myself as an “early adopter,” after all, I started rock climbing before bolts, back-country skiing when skis were skinny, boots were leather, and we all “earned our (telemark) turns” because there was no other way to get up the mountain. Back in those heady days “scrambling” had not been invented, we were simply climbing mountains of NTD (no technical difficulty for the under 40 age bracket), and we wore brightly patterned lycra tights when rock climbing – sadly, if Instgram is a reliable indicator, those ugly and completely non-functional tights are back. Heck, I even wore Trucker hats, although in truth, any hat I own looks like a Trucker hat on me as I have a very small head. 

Given my illustrious history at the forefront of the latest social trends, it is strange, possibly inexplicable that it I did not join Instagram until 2015, a full five years after the launch of what may be the most popular, and narcissistic social media site around, and, immediately I understood how Alice felt when she went down the rabbit hole. 

But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
From Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Instagram, if you have the good sense not to ever have visited the site, is a place where people post pictures, mostly of themselves and caption them with some mindless pap which would have us believe that the world is full of unicorns and rainbows, and #my #life #is #better #than #your #vacation or some other #self-aggrandising #proclamation, followed by #a #long #list #of #companies #producing #consumables #for #a #world #obsessed #with #possessions. Thus, has unbounded narcissism bonded with unbridled consumerism. 

The aim, as far as I can tell, is to amass as many followers as possible, preferably of the sycophantic kind who will gush and fawn over each and every “selfie” leading inexorably to the kind of illusory superiority that social scientists have been demonstrating for decades (depending on surveys, somewhere between 68% and 90% of us believe we are above average – a mathematical impossibility that may be difficult for Instagrammers to wrap their heads around).

Marketers, of course, simply want to flog their products, and advertisers worked out long ago how to manipulate private individuals into flogging all manner of crap at little to no cost to themselves. Older readers of my blog will surely remember the first time labels appeared on the outside of clothing. I remember it distinctly and could not understand why anyone would want to walk around with the clothing equivalent of a sandwich board on their backs, but, there is no denying that wearing the brand name logo of your polo shirt proudly, but discreetly, on your chest became an instant symbol of all that was desirable. Instagram is simply a much more widely, and hence more toxic, version of the same phenomena wherein you convince people to #your #brand. 

I've been on Instagram about a week, and that is plenty long enough to suss out the system and figure out what works, and so, I present the top three techniques to become a highly followed Instagrammer. Use these techniques and soon you too could be prostituting yourself on the alter of commercialism, becoming extraordinary, and moving comfortably, with minimal real effort into the top 10% of the population on whatever measure you deem important.

  • Feature scantily clad good looking young females in all your photos. The fact that your photo is taken in Nunavut in the middle of January is no good reason not to squarely frame a bikini clad blond in the middle of the photo. Verisimilitude be damned, this is Instagram. 
  • Search out quotes from truly talented authors (Google can find a dozen in less time than it takes a hummingbird to fart) and use them to caption your image. The time you save thinking up something original can be used to frame yet another photo of yourself sucking in your gut as you compose the next #how #buffed #am #I image in the bathroom mirror.
  • Trite motivational messages, particularly ones that imply that if your life is not perfect its because you aren't trying hard enough should feature liberally in your posts. You simultaneously want to “inspire” your followers to greatness, while, at the same time shaming them because they didn't #run #50 #kilometres #before #breakfast, neglected to #eat #clean, or, did not #give #it #all #you've #got. 

Instagram is fantasy land where we are all - despite spending the last week glued to an office chair over-indulging in donuts - either #svelte or #swole, our lives are all filled with a series of exciting moments where we watch #sunrises from the #ocean, #sunsets from the #mountains and cavort among #flower filled #alpine meadows in between. The mundane banality of ordinary life with its inescapable chores disappears into an endless vision of #rolling waves, #cresting mountains, #untouched ski slopes, and, like the inhabitants of Lake Wobegon, we are all above average. If you can drink the kool-aid of unmitigated positivism liberally laced with unbridled consumerism, you are free to live for ever, frozen in glorious youth bikini clad on a #mountain top with the wind blowing through your long blond hair. 

Just don't look for me there. I've decided that, on balance, I prefer the real world, where trails are muddy, roads are crowded, most of us, despite our best efforts, are a little bit soft around the middle, we try our best, but, on more occasions than we choose to remember, we fall short of our ideals, and, yet, tomorrow is another day, when we get up and do it all again, because life is a journey, not a destination, #memories are better than stuff, but, if you have to keep telling yourself this, you've likely lost the plot, and, in the end, I prefer to #keep #it #real.

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