I am really glad that my two favourite writers, Alexis Madrigal and Jocelyn K. Glei have started to write even more frequently these days. Their newsletters (Madrigal’s, Glei’s) are a delight to receive in my inbox, and I felt more informed and even more with purpose after reading them.
If you have been actively scouring the web in the forefront of technology, social media and morality these days, you might have come across many articles criticising web platforms for deviating far from design and ethics, from messing up with your sleep, to magnifying biases to promote more structural inequality and racism, to creepily reconnecting you with relatives you never knew you had (or intend of staying away from). Facebook is largely the culprit for a lot of these fiaschi, and in light of their involvement in mass movements such as Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter and many more, it might be shallow to place such faith in these private companies as facilitators and guardians of social justice, knowing that their goal in the first place is commercial-oriented. After all, social justice and pro-democracy efforts necessarily lead to some instability at some point, and this is not a favourite marketplace condition that shall profit these businesses.
Anyway, back to the point.
Instagram’s inability to add links to the captions and comments had been such an inconvenience for the longest time, and now we might know why (or accept it).
“A network that hosts millions of people won’t let them do something that is second nature for digital natives. So its users have concocted their own clunky loophole to get around the problem,” Bereznak writes. “It’s as if there were a permanent snowstorm in a city, and the mayor refused to clear the sidewalks. Inevitably, pedestrians would just stomp out their own inelegant roundabout paths to navigate the dirty, urine-filled slush.”
However, Madrigal wrote that this might be intentional, and we could comfort ourselves that this is part of the effort of reducing anxiety while navigating social media in the age of Trump.
But what if friction is necessary for the long-term health of these social systems? What if the platforms sometimes need to do the thing that generates lower short-run “engagement”? What if social networks now need dampening, not amplification?
On not being part of #theresistance:
Instagram does not pretend to be part of the public sphere. It is not the natural home of #theresistance. It’s a place for the Sunday’s-best version of your personal life to have space on the internet.
However, being apolitical is not something everyone can afford to have. It brought me back to this image.
Someone has got to do the fight, and still get to be in their/our best version of Sunday self at the same time. Is it possible for such space?