Instagram is a curious mixture of staccato visual messaging and unacknowledged (aspirational) angst. It seems to be (a) most concise method by which a (visual) culture self-replicates in an integrated (“social media”) information technology context. Readily exploited as it is by commercial self-interests, in many ways it is evidence of the progressive and procedural self-definition and refinement of an existing logic and tendency towards information system (memetic) self-replication.
Information-processing systems in physics and biology are already biased towards autonomously seeking the lowest-energy, most concise and algorithmically optimal solutions for self-replication, continuity and for maintaining environmental tenure or self-propagation. That the sum effect of this logic (in or as social media) may be to generate psychological agitation and an ambient dissatisfaction indicates that the continuity and self-replication of the information system is the primary purpose. Individuals seeking reflexive self-definition through this messaging platform are really just incidental to the overall momentum of this system.
I’ve been studying these systems for some time. Instagram does not only generate dissatisfaction, it thrives on it. I’m a fan of a quokka selfie as much as anyone but when we look more deeply into the way these kinds of social media systems function, they reveal themselves as not always being the individuating experience they are sold as.
The hard facts of cultural selfies.