The boiled frogs of Instagram

When I picture instagram, in my mind’s eye I see beautifully composed landscape shots, eye-popping food photography, and tasteful, impossible interiors.

I don’t know why I see this. I wonder if it used to look like that, back in the early days. Or maybe it’s actually Flickr I’m remembering. *sigh*

Mindful that we might need an alternative, and soon, and aware that Mastodon probably won’t be it, I downloaded the Instagram app and went through the account creation process (my original account is long gone). I don’t want to have anything to do with Meta or any of its branches, so I was holding my nose as I did this.

But the first five minutes of onboarding was so utterly repellent that I immediately deleted everything. It seems to have evolved into the scrapings of shit off the shoes of culture. I knew it would be bad: my daughter has been keeping me updated with how bad it is. But I suppose people who have been on there are like the proverbial frog in a saucepan. They were long ago boiled to death, and when I opened the app what I saw was the aftermath. A big saucepan full of roiling pink water and eviscerated frogs.

It put me in mind of a couple of other things that I’ve found repellent over the years. There was an article in the Guardian the other day about The Word (not the magazine), the TV show that was a staple of Channel 4 post-pub entertainment in the early 90s. I was in my late 20s when it started, and I found it unwatchable. You’ll say that maybe I was just that little bit too old for it, in the same way I was that little bit too old for Star Wars. But then I’d also hated Channel 4’s The Tube, which was 10 years earlier. There’s just something about these trashy pop culture shows with talentless presenters that repels me. And these feelings never go away. I’ve absolutely hated Jonathan Ross and his style since he first appeared on The Last Resort. I absolutely refuse to watch or listen to him. I can’t watch YouTubers for the same reason. If I wanted to look at a talentless twat I’d look in the mirror.

And talking of talentless presenters and The Tube, another show being celebrated this week is Later… with Jools Holland, which I’ve never been able to watch, even when someone I liked was on. I cannot stand that man! That it’s been going for 30 years is everything that’s wrong with the media industry in a nutshell. Every time I even think about it, I say to myself, bring back Whistle Test. Bring back Rock Goes to College.

Eurotrash, The Word, The Last Resort, The Tube… whatever Channel 4’s secret sauce is, I’m allergic to it.

And looking at Instagram the other day, at the twitching video loops, the plumped out lips, the sticking out arses, the attention seekers drowning in their own narcissism, I was nauseated. It’s all the trashy gilt and glitter of our times in one place, a new gilded age. A long way from Beatles Twitter.

So I turn back to the hopelessly wet and fragile Mastodon, and I think, is this it?

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