“Instagram-worthy” = Bullshit

Column A: Trust, authenticity, and accuracy

Column B: Other social media besides Facebook: Instagram

Column C: “Most of the information we spread online is quantifiably ‘bullshit’”

Nathaniel Barr admits that “bullshit springs from vanity and hunger for attention” in his article: “Most of the information we spread online is quantifiably ‘bullshit’.”

He brings up Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit:

Barr discusses the bullshit we are exposed to on a daily basis, bringing up examples of mediums through which bullshit is presented to us, such as Facebook, Twitter, and political campaigns. He points out that “the very nature of the internet may encourage a shallow kind of information processing that facilitates belief in bullshit.” With the internet’s impact on our susceptibility to bullshit, will it ever be possible to ensure that the information we obtain online is trustworthy, authentic, and accurate?

Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/oprah-side-eye-squint-B33saVGoouwNi

I agree with Barr that vanity and hunger for attention influence people to spread dishonest information, but rather than focusing on text-based posts, like Barr does, I will be looking into the spread of image-based posts, through Instagram.

Instagram is the king of photo-sharing social medias, and is your key to accessing the photos of your friends and favourite celebrities. There are questions that may arise regarding the accuracy of Instagram as a depiction of its users’ lives, such as:

  • Are our Instagram photos really as authentic as our captions claim they are?
  • Are Instagram accounts a truthful representation of its users?
  • Are Instagram users posting a bunch of bullshit?

Throughout my several years as an active Instagram user, I’ve heard others — and myself — say the following phrases:

  • “Let’s take a photo for Instagram!”
  • “I can’t post this photo, it’s not Instagram-worthy…”
  • “It’s okay, I can just crop that part of the photo and add a filter before I post it.”

The phrase “Instagram-worthy” or “insta worthy” is widely used to describe photos that are good enough to be posted on Instagram.

Considering this obsession with taking photos for the sake of posting them on Instagram and racking up “likes”, it is questionable whether Instagram provides authentic perceptions of people’s lives, or if it’s just a platform for users to deceitfully portray themselves.

Towards the end of 2015, Instagram star Essena O’Neill stopped posting images on Instagram, claiming that nothing is real on social media. She edited all the captions of her existing posts, revealing the true story behind each photo, and essentially calling herself out on the bullshit she was posting.

Source: http://www.elle.com/culture/news/a31635/essena-oneill-instagram-social-media-is-not-real-life/
Source: http://www.jarty.net/essena-oneill-new-instagram-captions/
Source: https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/after-dropping-sponsors-instagram-star-essena-231447817.html

Barr admits that “sometimes believing bullshit might be relatively inconsequential. Being overly impressed with an exaggerated story of how a Facebook friend shared a meal with Johnny Depp on a big night out is unlikely to ruin anyone’s life. However, our susceptibility to some kinds of bullshit may be more costly.”

So what are the costs of believing the bullshit?

Regarding Essena’s situation, one of the costs may be that due to her large number of Instagram followers, she was a role model to many; her fans looked up to her, but the person they looked up to wasn’t the “real” Essena, it was the “society’s perfect girl” she pretended to be.

The cost of people idolizing people like Essena (before she revealed the truth behind her posts), is that they will begin doing the things she does, posting photos like she does, and contributing to the never-ending cycle of spreading bullshit.

Instagram allows people to create profiles to share their photos, but also presents users with several filters and editing tools to alter their photos, and provides a platform for companies to pay users to subtly advertise their products.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/instagram-essena-o-neill-social-media-isn-t-real-1.3302045

In a world where earning enough money to make a living can be quite a challenge, it must seem like a dream to get paid to merely post photos of yourself wearing/holding products, but in reality, all you are doing is presenting a false representation of yourself, or spreading bullshit, as Barr would say.

It can be difficult to avoid spreading bullshit since this action has become so normalized in our society, and it’s really up to each individual if they want to put on a mask and portray themselves as someone they’re not, or if they really want the world to see them with #nofilter.

In his wise words, Barr says:

“We should all strive to avoid, wherever possible, spreading our own bullshit.”
Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/will-smith-bullshit-allergic-to-13uD3hb8RWJUBi