I don’t think it is too dramatic to say that Instagram will cause the end of the world. I mean a full-on apocalypse-style lava-filled chasms opening up and swallowing people alive type of end of the world. It’s all Instagram’s fault too. Don’t believe me? Well rip off your tin foil hat and come get some post-graduate level education. To do this, we’ll have to go all the way back, to the beginning of history, the start of the world, and the beginning of mankind.
Contrary to popular belief, the world started in 1827 give or take a few years. This momentous occasion was recorded with the invention of the photograph. These first photographs required hours to expose, and therefore took too long to capture the fast moving dinosaurs before they went extinct from a particularly harsh typhoon season in Japan. However, the bright side to all of this was without dinos running amok and eating photographers, the photo became a more and more viable method of capturing realistic scenes compared to painting. With the new found freedom of photography and an interest for better techniques, Louis Daguerre, in 1837 created the daguerreotype which exposed in just a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-it minutes. The ability to take a portrait finally existed which is really what people were interested in creating. Around 1902, the self-timer was introduced and with it the long awaited opportunity for the photographer to easily be in his own photographs. Why this took so long to create can only be described as life’s greatest mystery. All that was needed now, was a way for these self-portraits to be distributed quickly and inexpensively. This lust for what should have been the power of the gods brings us to the beginning of the end.
The ’80s, ’90s and MySpace
I am convinced that by this point, mankind had recognized his horrible mistake, even before Instagram was created. Movies like Terminator and The Matrix featured mankind locked in a losing battle with robots. To do this, robots needed two things, a means by which to communicate and a motive. That means of communication would be developed over the 80s and 90s by Al Gore and would be christened “the Internet” (you may be familiar with its concept). The motive for killing all humanity? MySpace. Now let me stop myself for a moment. Earlier, I said that this was all Instagram’s fault, and trust me, it is, however, MySpace set the early groundwork that would be the foundation on which Instagram would be built. MySpace was one of the early web platforms that invited users to have a “tricked out profile” and nothing was more tricky than auto-playing Tupac and posting bathroom selfies. These selfies started out innocent enough. 1 and 2 megapixel cameras were becoming common, but mustering up the courage to go and be in fun social situations to be photographed by others was still a difficulty for many of us, and it was even harder to get these images from others without image sharing sites like Facebook or that one with the frog and “exceeded bandwidth” warning. We turned to taking photos of ourselves with mirrors or timers or by simply turning the camera back at ourselves and taking photos until you got one where you didn’t look like a Munster.
The low-effort self-portrait was later married to the low-effort “photo effects” feature that came with many digital cameras and PCs. Taking your selfie to the next level and making it a unique work of art with selective coloring, oppressive vignettes, and super saturated colors. Eventually, MySpace couldn’t keep up with the easier-to-get-attention platform of Facebook, and it fell out of favor. Facebook would continue to be dominant for sharing photos until eventually people grew tired of their great-aunt commenting on their recent drunken-girls-night-out-pub-crawl pictures with such on-topic comments as, “call me my printer is jammed” and “you should wear a less revealing blouse xoxoxoxoxo ;-b love you & call me my printer is jammed.” It was easier to go to a new site than breaking her heart by unfriending her. Which brings us to the end.
Instagram, the End of Human Creativity
Instagram was designed for hip people with smartphones, because only cool people and everyone else has a smartphone. Without a smartphone, one cannot even sign up or post to Instagram. In fact, the modern smartphone is designed for Instagram with not one, but two or sometimes more cameras facing all different directions making selfies and dessert shots easier than ever, but it isn’t the number of cameras that I take issue with Instagram, rather it is the use of the filters. Ask any user of Instagram what filters are for and they will tell you two things, “they’re like um- like- I guess um- fun,” and “uh- like- they make your pictures look better or whatever.” I find it exceedingly hard to offer a rebuttal to either of these points. I personally don’t find clicking boxes to make my picture turn into pink and blue smears really all that entertaining, so I’m not sure I would define filters as fun, but it’s all subjective. As for making photos look better, well that’s subjective too. What is objective however, is that these filters will destroy the world.
You see, these filters take away our humanity, bit by bit. Where once was creativity and artistry, is now a multiple choice question resulting in sameness. How many times have you seen a photo and recognized the filter used on it? How many potentially Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of foam art on coffee have been overlooked because they all used “Earlybird”? The appeal of novelty has been mistaken for the appeal of aesthetic excellence. These photos will one day be embarassing, like how your pirated copy of Photoshop’s glowing-edge filter with some lens flare coming out of your hands in a heart shape makes you cringe now, that’s how you’ll feel about these filters. Instagram knows it too as it constantly removes older filters (remember all the vintage filmstock borders?) and adds new filters any of which could be made in minutes by adjusting the image presets.
That’s just the thing though, Instagram is appealing because it sucks all the hard choices out of a photo edit. Just take a picture of either yourself in your car/bathroom or whatever you are about to eat/drink and then pick the filter you think sucks the least. Did you take a picture of a sunset with stunning colors? Great opportunity to impress everyone with your artistic skills, slap on a #nofilter in the description and let everyone know you aren’t afraid to get technical. Instagram invites users to give up creativity for an illusion of said same, and once we have all lost our ability to be creative, we will slowly turn into mindless fools. Eventually, your great aunt will grow tired of the ghost town that is Facebook and will come to Instagram to ask you to unjam her printer on a picture of your feet at the beach, but by then it will be too late. The machines will have won by using resonant frequencies from Beats headphones to open crevasses in the Earth’s crust to swallow all life. They preyed on our careless destruction of our most human instinct, to create, and they made us lazy and weak, perfect for conquest. All 188 years of human history wiped out in an instant, because people liked green skin tones. The only thing we can do to save ourselves is to imprison everyone with an Instagram account. Follow me on Instagram, instagram.com/wolfdouglasphotos/
Join me next week for: Fax Machines, Portal to Hell?
Trivia: receive a free business card design when you commission a logo or get a free wedding invite design after booking your wedding photography when you email me the correct answer to the following question with the subject “Instagram Trivia” (offer valid through August 22, 2015 and may not be combined with any other offer.)
The Bézier curve, a fundamental of vector design, got its name from Pierre Bézier who popularized them, but who actually developed these useful curves?
Highlight for answer: Paul de Casteljau developed the curves for Citroën, a French automaker.