So Instagram came out with new policies that are making everyone freak out. Some people are leaving the platform and news outlets are making statements like this.
.. the only way to stop Instagram from using your pics is by killing off your account. However, for those who enjoy a world of filtered mobile pics, there are several alternatives including Hipstamatic and Twitter. - Freep.com
This statement highlights something that is really really bugging me. Our online communities seem to hold zero acknowledged value within society and there for are continually falling victim to both the unregulated policy shifts of platform owners and the flippant disregard of the media.
We (Instagram users) can't just pick up and go somewhere else, and we aren't using Instagram because we like "filtered mobile pics". We are a community, and each individual in this community has spent time, effort and parts of themselves building it. This community and the relationships within it matter. Statements like the above, marginalize and degrade the value of our experiences and set a stage that allows companies like Facebook to continue to take advantage of us. Until the true value services like these are realized and acknowledged as something more than a fun thing to do or a method for companies to advertise to us, we will never be given the right (yes I said right) to own our communities, experiences and content.
Is it crazy to think about a day when online communities begin to have rights. When the value of the relationships we create on these platforms are validated and acknowledged as an important part of society and that they can not be destroyed at the whim of the platform owners?
I don't want to leave Instagram. I especially don't want to leave because the rug was pulled out from under me*. Instagram has value to me that is way beyond the feature set. I've spend over 2 years documenting and sharing my life with a curated group of people from all over the world.
- I look forward to opening the app during the down times of my day and getting lost in the beautiful glimpses into other's lives. - I look forward to sharing the daily events of my life, both big and small. - I value feeling connected to the greater world as people express how they relate to what I've shared. - I've made friends that I see in person through the app. - I keep up in with the people I love through the app (in a way, more intimate and personal than Twitter or FB can provide) - The people in my community give me encouragement and praise, they laugh at my jokes, they invest in my story. - The people in my community show me by example every hour of everyday, to see life for what it is. Beautiful, complicated, short, inspiring, and broad.
It's a lot more than looking at some "filtered mobile photos".
I don't have the answer and it's obvious that we as a society don't either. We may not have even started the conversation, but I hope we do, it's important. Too important to just let case after case start to add up to a precedence devoid of critical thought and human judgement.
I will stay with Instagram for the time being and I hope that the value of my relationships there continue to out way my discomfort with the policies. If you are sticking it out too you can can join my community @tyesha.
ps. Read this http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/18/3780158/instagrams-new-terms-of-service-what-they-really-mean
*Changing the rules midstream is another issue we need to take up as a society. Is it ok to gain the trust of millions of people through a set of rules of conduct then just change them without any due process?