Bras on Instagram

I really liked Lauren Hallden’s Towards a Bra-Free Instagram Experience. It made me start to wonder about the effects of a social medium when it thinks you are something… but you are not that. Every so often I’ve noticed an account can stumble into a sort of algorithmic death spiral. I remember years back when I foolishly gave The Great Gatsby five stars on Amazon, and for months on end it thoughtfully suggested classic after classic after classic after classic. I guess that’s to be expected. But what’s get interesting is that somehow it’s not just an annoyance – I don’t use the suggestions that much – but it also feels like a wrong worth correcting, a sense of identity betrayed. And I have to try to convince the black box that this is what I’m about.

I’ve spent my fair share of time on Instagram, and don’t really regret it much. Perhaps that’s because the channel isn’t as emotionally charged as others can be. But I recently removed the Instagram app from my phone, just as a little experiment. I still log in every now and then on the iPad to see what’s up. (By the way, Instagram via iPad web browser is so much better than the iPhone app it’s crazy. There also seem to be fewer ads?)

This removal is also part of a re-RSSing (and re-assessing) project I’ve been trying to do. If I check comething a lot, find a feed. If I think about a topic a lot, find the feeds. Instagram doesn’t have any built-in feeds that I know of, but you can cobble something together through various means (for example). So far I like this approach. I see only what I wanted – and I miss what they think I wanted. I’m okay with this. This product manager idea of “discovery” has never ranked high on my list, and I don’t miss content-hopping down the bottomless pit. That’s what Twitter is for.

This is what RSS is for, these days: you set a snare, leave it, and trap for yourself the words you want to read most.