This week started with a bang: I somehow got locked out of my Instagram account. The account itself still exists and you can view and like my photographs and — as I expect will start happening now — leave a tonne of spammy comments. The reason my account was flagged was likely because I posted from travel abroad, which already resulted in an e-mail seeking clarification about accessing the account from a previously unused location or something to that effect. Back in my country now (which probably got flagged as another major change in location, although that does not make much sense) I find that the e-mail associated with that account has been mysteriously deleted and access to my account revoked with only one possibility of restoration: contacting Instagram directly.
While a lot of people wrote to me saying that Instagram will restore access if I write to them, and that the system may have made a mistake flagging it, I would, myself, look at this as a good thing — not unlike William’s curfew, for any of you who have read Sellars and Yeats’ 1066 and all that, the classic satire: “Another very conquering law made by William I said that everyone had to go to bed at eight o’clock. This was called the Curfew and was a Good Thing in the end since it was the cause of Gray’s Energy in the country churchyard (at Stoke Penge).” Coming back to the present, I have decided not to contest the blockade and instead let the account rest, or even be scrapped if Instagram chooses.
Like always, there are two ways to look at everything. I could whine about losing my half-decade old Instagram account, or I could make it a good thing. One of the qualms I have had with Instagram, and Google+ before it, has been that they encourage photo sharing, full stop. I got into the entire Instagram/G+ bandwagon (the latter before it ballooned, when at beta, and when it was more promising than it sadly is today) solely because of love of photography. But I often disliked how, like the internet itself, these networks can quickly become more of dictators, and, instead of encouraging and developing one’s photography, they become machines harvesting content, regardless of its quality. In their defence, they never really set out to improve anyone’s photography, but I still find it interesting how offline, say an art gallery, also meant mainly for showcasing, can still help improve your work. I digress. In a splendid personification of human tendency to band with one’s own kind, with others who share our views, both of these networks have people who enjoy and promote select photographic styles, and it is far too easy to get caught up in that. 500px is another excellent example of this, or at least the most obvious one, with its streams rich in heavily photoshopped work bordering on or often even crossing into the unnatural. However, all this is fodder for another article that is currently in its final editing phase and which I intended to publish before the whole Instagram fiasco happened.
There is one problem with this entire setup, however: photography is my hobby after all and it makes little sense if I have no place in which to collect my final works. This was primarily what I used Instagram for; the social aspect was a tacky add-on as far as I am concerned. VSCO has a social feature that feels, quite literally, tacky, but it will do for now. What I do love about VSCO, as much as I detest their new app UI, is that there are rightly no concepts of likes, favourites and other absurd means of measuring one’s worth. (This should really be no surprise coming from someone like me who quit Facebook when everyone the trendy thing to do was join it — I have never been one for following trends anyway.) All said and done, and despite my complaints about VSCO earlier this month, I think we ought to pick our battles: between Instagram and VSCO, I pick VSCO without a second thought, so that makes it official. See you, Instagram. It was great while it lasted.