I wonder about the effect of Instagram on our minds

I have been having a discussion with Tim about Instagram recently. Interestingly its also the launch of Ingrid Goes West.

From tmdb

Ingrid becomes obsessed with a social network star named Taylor Sloane who seemingly has a perfect life. But when Ingrid decides to drop everything and move west to be Taylor’s friend, her behaviour turns unsettling and dangerous.

It doesn’t sound great, something like Friend Request and Unfriended.

Anyway…

I don’t use it because I have issues with the whole setup of instagram. Without going into too much detail, here’s the main points.

  1. I don’t agree with Instagram’s end user licence, which includes using your photos in almost anyway they like.
  2. I don’t like the creation of instagrams is all within the same app (for example I use a Plume on Android and Corebird on Ubuntu) to access Twiter and I create, edit and post to twitter not within twitter (it a important distinction)
  3. I don’t like the fact Instagram isn’t really public, indexable or accessible unless you are on instagram.
  4. I have a problem with filtered views of real life. Its bad enough that every photo you see has been doctored/photoshopped/filtered/algorithmicilly messed. But I don’t want to see them everyday.

Photoshopping

And the last point is a key one, as its clear there are serious problems with seeing this level of fakeness everywhere. Like it or not, it becomes normalised.

I hear some of you say this is no more than what Twitter or Facebook do/enable? and I would somewhat agree… but I have built ways to deal with this partly due to being able to use other apps or types of behaviours which run against the way it was engineered.

For example I don’t really look at the Facebook timeline, as I know its trying to lock me into a filter bubble, somewhat of my own making. Yes I could do a Robert Scoble and manage it into a better bubble, but I just don’t think its worthy of attention; plus Facebook doesn’t share this data in their data portability exports meaning all that work isn’t transferable at all. I know being without Facebook makes things very tricky but I can manage my activity within it right now, this might change of course as FB gets more greedy

Its easy to blame Instagram for all types of ills but its not solely them. Its a combination of Instagram and its share holders, the silicon valley push for winner takes all adoption of everything (dare I say anything about Uber in London) but most of all; ourselves for being suckers to peer pressure, advertising and patterns which are so established others are telling us exactly how they work!

We blindly follow suit without thinking about the long term effects. Mark Manson suggests the smartphone is going to be this generations cigarettes. When thinking about most peoples experience of the smartphone with Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp preloaded, I can’t help but think actually he’s got a good point. Its the perfect Black Mirror episode, total fantasy as Rachel said!

Black MIrror s3ep1

We seem to be playing with fire without a true understanding of the consequences. Even if we do, how do you make this clear to others who are suckered in? How do you make this clear in the face of peer & social pressure? How do we make this clear to the next generation, the ones born with visions of a unattainable perfection all around them?

I’m not a sucker and won’t be joining to be a poster or lurker just so I can scroll through my friends fake reality pictures.

Dirty little fingers in the data bucket

OkCupid | NO MATCH

Well I got to say… Its good to see some of the online dating sites feeling the heat from BBC’s Panorama last week.

In “Tainted Love: Secrets of the Dating Game,” the state broadcaster’s flagship current affairs program, Panorama, claimed to have uncovered a wide range of questionable practices by the online dating industry.

These include deliberate use of millions of photos and private details taken from social media sites without consent and reused to set up fake profiles of imaginary potential partners to, in the program’s words, “tempt the lovelorn.”

The documentary featured interviews with former online dating agency staffers who admitted on camera how they’d used such data to create fake profiles and adopt multiple personas to reel in those looking for love — and to boost profits.

The report also claimed the sources of this illegally obtained personal material ranged from British celebrities, politicians and even children. On camera, one former employee said that other European countries (notably Spain) were the main target, with easy pickings apparently coming from platforms such as MySpace.

As part of the investigation, reporters posing as prospective dating agency business openers were able to buy 10,000 people’s details, including birthdates and sexual preferences. That dataset included a member of the House of Lords, academics and BBC staff, all of whom told the BBC they had never signed up for such services.

Even my choice OkCupid are being targeted. Which is good because to be fair, although I do like their business model (well its better that the rest), I will never forget that they have been bought by Match.com and things are slightly changing for the worst.

 

Catfished: A reason to be so open?

Beautiful giant kite balloon/floats -- Santa Monica, CA

I really feel for C_T_S or Claire Travers Smith, who is the writer behind 52 First dates and I wrote about quite sometime ago.

She and many others had been Catfished by someone for a good part of a year (or more) by someone calling themselves Sebastian Pritchard-Jones and other names. If you don’t know what Catfishing is…

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

Sebastian turned out to be a woman in Wales by the name Amy! Its a big problem with online dating and frankly meeting anyone online. You got to really have your wits about you and use lots of street smarts. But even with all that, its not long before you find yourself suckered into something you don’t expect.

I am glad to say this has never happened to me (yet!) even with all the women I’ve dated online. I have a non-fast rule saying if we talk online for a while there is only a few steps it can really go as a relationship. For me to say I’m in a relationship, I must have met them a few times in real life. Theres already too many people messing around dating sites never actually going on dates for various reasons. Even some of the dating sites are waking up to the reality of these “Timewasters” and encouraging people to meet in the real world. Putting the dating back into dating, indeed…So no matter how well we’re getting on, we got to meet in the real world for me to change my single status (FB Status joking of course).

I of course am pretty open and I got to say I’m pretty consistent.This is maybe why I find it hard to be someone else?Anyway I’m shocked at this story and can’t imagine what its like to be catfished, not just physically but very much mentally. Although I did feel like I might have been years ago… (details are best left alone) One of the most interesting points is when one of the victims starts working things out and contacts other victims. Because I gather the catfishers are never satisfied with just one or two people duped. Victims can gather together and learn a lot about the catfishers. But this requires being frank and open about whats been going on…

One advantage of there being so many victims, according to Claire, is that they were able to compare notes. Clues.

I think something is happening but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Being able to clearly say this is me and I am who I say I am is becoming huge currently for the internet. Connected profiles make it difficult to do identity fraud in the way of a catfisher would need or require. In the case of Seb, the persons identity who was stolen was Gary who lived in Hull.

The man in the images seen by Ali turned out to be a construction worker called Gary who lived in Hull. As with Craig, his photos had been taken from Facebook; Gary admitted to me, when I telephoned, that he’d never been very careful with his security settings. I told him Ali had been so wrung out by her nine-month affair with Seb – Gary’s face, stranger’s voice – that she’d eventually relocated to Australia. Gary told me: “It’s a weird feeling to think somebody was in love with you like that. I just feel really sorry for [Ali]. It’s hard for me to take in, it’s been a shock, but I’m not the one who’s had my heart broken. There’s nothing worse.”

I’m of course not wanting to test the theory with my own profile or wish it upon anyone else. (oh and I’m not blaming Craig, he’s a victim in this as well) but I do wonder if a catfisher was to take on a hyper connected profile would it work the same? I guess what I’m wondering…

Is a hyper-connected profile, the only way to protect against being catfished? Just a thought… Of course you could always keep your self off the internet all together but thats just being silly… But when working with a profoundly disturbed psychopath could this work?

after discussion with psychologists and with editors at the Observer it was agreed that this extensive, energetic fraud could only have been conducted by a profoundly disturbed person. When I presented the evidence gathered to an investigative psychologist, Dr Keith Ashcroft, he suggested “the temporary relief of boredom” as one of the hoaxer’s motivations. He also introduced me to the psychologists’ term “duping delight”. Dr Ashcroft explained: “Essentially a thrill derived from having victims being intensely controlled and manipulated by carefully formulated deceptions. This is often the modus operandi of a psychopath.”