If Instagram turns this Andrea Dworkin into Beatrice Dalle, then I’ll pay for it

From 2013, we must make the choice between ‘high vanity’ or a form of snuggly, slow-creeping cyber-slavery

Share
Related Topics

A terrific mewling and scuffing of hooves filled the sky this week.

No, not Santa, Prancer and Blitzen, but the sound of cyberspace in a terrible hurrumph about Instagram  – recently bought by Facebook for $1bn – updating its privacy policy to grant itself the right to sell your shots to advertisers without notification or payment. “Instagram? What is this Instagram you speak of?”, I hear some say, employing the dusty tones of an Old Bailey judge being woken for his 3pm milky Darjeeling, his dippy Bourbon and to mumble the verdict on the latest hacking extradition case. Well, Instagram is a highly popular, totally free photo-sharing application which millions of smart-phone users are hopelessly addicted to.

Right now, perfectly sane people, many with university degrees and proper jobs, in fact, people you’d trust to water your plants or post important letters, are letting their bacon sandwich go cold while they photograph it, wang on a pretty one-touch Instagram filter called “Kelvin” or “Earlybird”, then upload it with the profound caption “Nom, bacon butty nom nom!”. Then, as the sandwich grows ever more elderly and the ketchup coagulates, the Instagram user sits staring at the phone, waiting impatiently for the quick-yield gratification gleaned from strangers spotting this picture, pressing a little heart button beside it to indicate they “like” it, and perhaps even writing a little message back saying “Um nom! Bacon samwiddge! In my belly! Nom nom!”.

Food is big on Instagram, so are baby photos – and I know you’ll agree, we all can’t get enough of those – also, shots of people’s desks, non-interesting trees taken from train windows during signal failures, photos of booze, and not forgetting incredibly flattering portrait shots; self-taken, cropped, blurred and put through a Hollywood-style filter. For example, in my Instagram account, I am the erotic hinterland between Helena Christensen and Beatrice Dalle, when the truth is that the person writing this column today – mid-party Xmas season – resembles a sort of boil-washed Andrea Dworkin.

The easy-to-use filters on Instagram are where its real beauty lies. Anything can be staged, chopped, glossed and transmitted in under a minute. If you want to remember life pre-Instagram simply go and find one of your photo albums from the 1990s, taken back before we had access to the pixie-dust that makes pictures pretty. Go and peruse page upon page of closed eyes or devil-red irises, gormless unprepared expressions, sallow skin, spam arms, yellow teeth and thumbs obscuring the lens. And these were the pictures that weren’t ripped into a dozen pieces on the high street outside Jessops on your lunch hour. These were the prime shots which made the £12.99-from-Boots photo album.

Nowadays, we all look perfect on Instagram, like we could be... in adverts selling soap powder! Which is exactly what Facebook and Instagram know and will soon have the right to rope you into. Or maybe just sell your photo to an agency which superimposes your head beside a tube of haemorrhoid cream with the caption “Blimey! My piles are shrinkin’ a treat since I got a load of this inside me!”. “I didn’t know I was a big fan of the musical We Will Rock You?” one might say sadly as one’s face floats by on the 73 bus to Stoke Newington.The fact that I can point this horror out to you, without being quite driven to delete my own account, and knowing you probably won’t delete yours, is testament to how user-charming Instagram can be. As of today, I’ve set my account to private and deleted a ton of pictures, but still couldn’t quite cyber-strop off.

If anything, I saw reports of this uproar as a small pre-Christmas gift. The gift of a wake- up call. Many of us need reminding at least six times a year of the reality of “free” internet. I’ve been told that “if the service is free, then you’re the product” by wise people for the past decade. Still I give away writing on Twitter and Facebook, upload pics on to Twitpic and yfrog, and type away on instant messaging quite unclear who is listening and owns it. With Instagram from January 2013, one must make the swift choice between “high vanity” or a form of snuggly, slow-creeping cyber-slavery. It says much about where we are as humans that many of us would rather have the right to a free filter that makes us look like Ryan Gosling or Nicole Scherzinger than reserve the right to be wholly free.

Has Posh put Romeo on the stage too soon?

I hope Victoria Beckham seeing her 10-year-old son Romeo pirouetting in a mac, waving a brolly centre stage in the new Burberry Mario Testino-shot cross-platform Spring/Summer 2013 campaign makes her happy. Lord knows, it would be nice for something to bring a tiny glimmer of joy to Victoria’s increasingly sad eyes – the ones we’re all politely pretending not to notice and laugh off as “Just Posh being Posh” during the requisite photo call accompanying every family outing. Romeo, still pre-puberty, was formerly that tiny tot one occasionally spotted at football matches, hair combed by his mummy, is now absolutely public property.

There’s no room any more to shout “He’s only a little boy!” or “He’s not the celebrity, I am!” when the media burrows into his life. The downside of becoming a top model aged 10 due to nepotism, the hollow arse-kissing aspect of fashion and our intense need to stare at the fruit of Posh and Becks’s loins is that there’s no off switch on this machine. I hope he keeps his lovely umbrella because I sense a storm brewing.  Beijing cuts to the chase with doom mongers

Beijing cuts to the chase with doom mongers

There aren’t many laughs with China’s human rights policy but I did emit a small snort when I heard that almost 100 people had been arrested for spreading doomsday rumours. You know all those LOL-tastic Mayan calendar, “the end is nigh” jokes we’ve politely tolerated for months? My sides?! China let a few suggestions fly that the sun will stop shining and electricity will not work from December 21, then promptly imprisoned everyone for encouraging social disorder. The world hasn’t ended for these people, but it has got considerably smaller.

Twitter: @gracedent

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written