insta-gate 2016

Today, in first-world feuds...

Unless you still frequent sites like MySpace, Napster and AOL Instant Messenger... I'm pretty sure you've either heard of or have become a user of a content-sharing/social networking application called Instagram (aka The Gram, or "IG" for short). And, although Instagram is only 5 and a half years young, it's also managed to secure over 400 million active users world-wide. No small feat! The attraction to Instagram is primarily based on three things: the ability to follow visual content posted by specific accounts/individuals (friends, strangers, and/or celebrity accounts) and vice-versa if you so choose, the ability to follow and post content in chronological order, and the ability to "brand" yourself or your business by creating a personalized and well-curated gallery of content.

Some might also say that there's a fourth essential element to the 'Gram, which is that of the "DM" (direct message). This feature allows you to send private messages directly to individuals you follow on Instagram. However, as many people can attest, what goes 'down in the DM" can sometimes be...  (ahem)... a series of unwanted advances... 

GIF courtesy of slantnews.com

GIF courtesy of slantnews.com

... So, let's just go ahead and call the "DM" aspect of Instagram a non-starter. This brings us back to the three other selling points.

Well, it seems that recently, like Facebook (which acquired Instagram for a cool BILLION DOLLARS back in 2012), Instagram announced that it would be changing its feed or timeline process, based on its own set of internal algorithms. Essentially, what it boils down to is that Instagram will be phasing out the 'chronological order' aspect of its application, and instead - the user's timeline will feature photos that are believed to be the most "relevant" to each user, instead of the photos posted most recently by the accounts the user follows. While the exact reason for the change is still not quite clear, a good guess would be that the IG gatekeepers are trying to slowly limit the amount of content being posted by its 400M plus users on a daily basis. Whatever the reasoning may be, the imminent change appears to have caused a bit of hysteria in the social media sphere.

Somehow, a bunch of IG users around the globe got in in their heads that this IG feed change was happening pronto, and thus decided to pre-emptively revolt against the impending change by asking their followers to 'turn on post notifications' in order to stay up to date on their content. On the flip side, other IG users began to revolt against the revolters, declaring that they will keep their post notifications turned off, so as not to be bombarded with countless IG notifications throughout the day whenever people post new content. SERIOUSLY. Insta-Gate 2016 is a thing. If you don't believe me, just log on to your Instagram account and search the hashtags #turnmeon and #turnmeoff, and you'll see the thousands of posts that have been dedicated to this whole timeline tantrum.

Collage courtesy of ShaolinSays

Collage courtesy of ShaolinSays

Now, on the one hand - I suppose I can understand why some people are up in arms about IGs decision to switch things up and highlight quote unquote "important/relevant" posts versus "most recent" posts. Especially when it comes to IG users, including professional bloggers, who use the social media application to promote their business or to sell products and services for the purpose of generating income. If IG changes the timeline formula, it will make it a lot more difficult for these businesses and business owners to ensure that their latest products and services are highly visible and timely to their followers. So, by asking their followers to turn on their post notifications, they are trying to ensure that their followers will continue to receive their most up-to-date content... which more or less directly translates into dollars for them.

For the average IG user like myself, however, having your most recent posts seen first in a feed is more of a "nice to have" feature, than it is a "must have". The average user isn't relying on the application to sell or promote their products/services as a means of primary income. These are just users who use the app recreationally... and I'm inclined to believe that recreational IG users (vs. IG business users) make up the majority of the IG population. I don't imagine that most of us are out here, selling detox teas, waist trainers and fitness goals online to make a buck. So, the question is: Is Instagram doing its users a service or a disservice by implementing this new way of presenting content?

When I first heard of the upcoming change, I was like "here we go again; social media powerhouses taking even more control of our content". But then, I thought - if the new algorithm works well enough, the content presented to me in my feed will still be quite similar to what I receive now, assuming it will be based on photos and accounts that I've liked the most and followed the most frequently up until this point. I mean, if we use Facebook as an example: we all have friends or accounts we follow, that don't necessarily keep their pages/timelines updated with fresh content that we care enough about to click through on a daily basis. So, I actually don't think IG is making a horrible decision here by changing the formula to show us the stuff we 'supposedly' care about or like the most, first. Perhaps if my bread and butter were based on Instagram likes, I'd feel much differently though... So, who knows.

In any case, whatever the changes IG plans to make to their timeline... they aren't happening right away. So, just chill folks!

Perhaps this 'Insta-rage against the machine' is a sign that we need to take a large step away from our mobile devices altogether and figure out a way to work an 'unplug schedule' into our lives.

Perhaps we need to have dial-up internet make a comeback? The thought alone of sitting through five minutes of that heinous dial-up connection sound just to get online would be enough of a deterrent for me to check my notifications/emails once a week instead of 25 times a day.

 

 

Shaolin Says.

Shaolin "J" Style

Ontario

Creative writer. Professional ranter. Canadian-born. Caribbean blood. Probably the worst introvert you'll ever meet.