A friend sent me a screenshot of a tweet that someone posted about Snapchats loss of billions of users. Or dollars. I forget which, but the cause was a tweet sent out by Kylie Jenner. Once upon a time she was celebrated by Snapchat for being the most followed user on the platform but one day she tweeted something along the lines of, “does anyone find themselves never opening snapchat anymore?” Im paraphrasing really poorly but she was basically saying it’s really sad how she feels she doesn’t use it as often as she once did. When Instagram introduced their stories feature, which is more or less identical to snapchat in many ways, people were up in arms exclaiming their unwavering loyalty to snapchat but like all social media updates, the new beats out the old and people generally keep up with the updates.

 

Instagram stories for me are my holy grail. I get to upload every meme I find hilarious, play niche bingo, karaoke and express my unfiltered stream of consciousness without having to interrupt my perfectly curated Instagram grid. Even with the popularity of Instagram stories it still seems to be used more by average people with influencers and internet celebrities still promoting their snapchats trying to gain new followers on that platform everyday. I had snapchat but felt like I was always posting to dead space. Having to know peoples usernames and accept followers meant that my audience was limited. An analogy a friend made was that Snapchat is like being in your bedroom closed off from the world, letting only a select few enter whereas Instagram story is like the living room where your space is more accessible and viewers come in and out more freely. My narcissism felt invalidated with only a few views on my Snapchat story a day. Eventually I realised the only reason I was keeping the app available on my phone was so that I could use the filters that I would see people using in fear of missing out on a cute selfie or internet trend. I finally deleted Snapchat when I started racking up 100 or more views on my Instagram story.

 

When I watch videos on YouTube I definitely gravitate towards vlog style videos and channels. I enjoy watching main channel videos from fashion bloggers and make up artists but I tend to favour the more chatty ones anyway. There is something about following another person’s daily life that isn’t just entertaining but deeply satisfying. When I watch Trisha Paytas, a decade long YouTuber, drive in her pink g wagon whilst she unloads her thoughts and feelings I get the same feeling as I do when I watch my closest friends on Instagram story talk about the events of her day. When I click on my Instagram app I am taken to the homepage where I can view a feed that is NOT in chronological order (fuck the new insta algorithm am I right?) and I rarely scroll down. With posts not being in chronological order on my feed I don’t feel like I am really seeing the most recent activity of the people I follow so I go straight to the stories. I don’t know how the algorithm for stories works but I seem to always have my favourite accounts sitting next to my own profile picture in perfect circles surrounded in unread red. I pay barely enough attention to who I am watching to know if this is true or not and I have never scrolled right through the list of unread stories to find out.

 

How do we give out information about ourselves that nobody asked for? We are in a time where our social media profiles act as our own personal news outlets. We review products, promote bars and restaurants, critique and analyse news stories and write opinion pieces on current affairs and social issues. After all of that we still want to keep giving information about ourselves and our tastes. First there were “tag yourself” memes where there would be 6 or so options which would consist of images and short descriptions based on personality types. You could screenshot these memes and share them on your story circling the one you relate to the most. This was a way to admit certain unpopular behaviours you have and show followers how you self actualise. I don’t remember specifically the first game of bingo I played but astrology bingo is the one that stands out most to me. Astrology meme accounts on Instagram make bingos specific to each star sign. If you know your moon and rising signs you can play three times. The grid would include personality traits of each sign and you can screenshot the bingo relevant to you and circle each trait you think applies to you. It is a way to express your interest in astrology, self deprecate and give followers specifics about your personality that they may not see.

 

A new feature of Instagram stories are the GIF sticker option. I had low expectations expecting to find the same bored GIFs that we see on Facebook messenger but I was surprised to see old Piczo and MySpace style graphics on the feature. I could plaster my images in glitter font quotes and sparkly flowers which saw my curated grid finally connect with my story updates. That aesthetic bridge brought my daily mundanities into my created digital universe where my online self  lives. The GIFs were taken away as quickly as they came because racism trickled into the library of graphics. I saw news articles and read posts of mourning for the short lived feature. People began using text to replace the GIFs where they would write something like *insert ego GIF here*. Though there was no glitchy imagery and outdated low resolution graphics the effect was still the same.

 

Calling someone out is the act of holding someone accountable for their negative behaviour or wrongdoings. Positing to the internet evidence of these wrongdoings or naming and shaming abusers, racists, misogynists etc is a way for people that have had their power stripped from them to regain power and warn others about any person or companies actions. For example, when Sister Magazine interviewed h00kerproblemz and made them their coverstar they where called out by a past contributor to the magazine. The person who called them out told her followers that she had warned the editors of the magazine about h00kerproblemz who is a known abuser, racist and transphobe before the magazine was launched. They decided to go forward with the launch anyway. They issued an “apology” where they mostly talked about how they will be affected financially by this. A few weeks later the editors of Sister Magazine did an Instagram live where they discussed call out culture. I did not get to watch but I found it incredibly insulting that after being called out and not responding well enough to the victims of their mistep, they decided they were in a position to discuss the topic of call out culture. Sharing information about people or companies that have power and/or access to vulnerable people can only be positive. Sharing my story and other stories about known abusers is a way to protect people that could be future victims where the systems in place to protect us have failed us.

Georgina Tyson