CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s surprising how much Instagram has changed, some people, like influencers and entrepreneurs, love it and others seem to hate it, especially that darn algorithm, yet somehow we’re still glued to it. According to the engineers that developed it, along with many other social media platforms… it’s a psychological thing.
But getting into that would send us down a rabbit hole. if you’re interested in that rabbit hole, refer to the video below to watch a preview of the documentary that calls out all of social media’s darkness.
On a much lighter and specific note, the Instagram algorithm affects our ability to authentically explore. We all know that technological advancements have greatly impacted our lives, we have the world right in the palm of our hands (inside our smartphones). It has impacted business owners tremendously and allowed them to market themselves to large audiences, as well as provide all of its users the ability to search and find just about anything.
However, having as much connectivity and the ability to explore means nothing if we’re unable to explore properly.
Why the algorithm makes it hard to utilize Instagram for exploration:
The algorithm shows you what it thinks you like, meaning there is no room for discovery.
What we know as the algorithm is described in the science realm as the Echo Chamber Effect. Meaning it’s an environment where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own.
If you love cats, and you interact with cat videos and photos on Instagram, ( liking, commenting, and saving cat content) the algorithm will begin to pick up on your interest.
So if you go to your search page after viewing numerous cat videos, nine times out of ten, your results will display even more cat content instead of the million other things out there in the world that you may like.
On the surface, having the ability to choose who’s content we’d like to see is great. Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri states Instagram’s most focus points are personalization and customization.
Mosseri keeps Instagram’s users updated on the advancements of the app via Twitter. Follow him for more information about what’s to come for this infamous platform.
He’s the breakdown of why it grinds people’s gears:
We’re now at a point where our devices is programmed to monitor what content we view, read, and interact with.
People don’t want to be monitored and tracked every time they use their devices. (Unfortunately, this is inevitable)
After close monitoring, the app then recreates your Instagram environment for you. It’s not authentic!
While this can be beneficial, people want to discover new things and expand their knowledge of the world, new art, new people, and new places that they’d probably never considered.
If your feed will only show you what you like how can figure out what else is out there?
Here’s a look at 4 different Instagram users, can you tell their current interests?
Here’s what a fellow Instagram user had to say:
“ I think the IG explore page algorithm could be useful for content creators who’ve hacked it and can use it to grow their following. For a normal user, it’s not very beneficial. Just because my interest temporarily peaked vacation spots, doesn’t mean I want an overwhelming amount of destinations to choose from. I think it also can limit my potential to discover new things. I know how to reach my interests but I’d like to see things I otherwise wouldn’t search. Judging by my algorithm, I’m obsessed with whales and natural hair when these are the bottom of my interest. With technology advancing, I’m interested to see the direction the algorithm will grow. For better or for worst? “ -Tinorah Philips
Initially, I thought it was pretty interesting before I knew what was going on. I was shocked at how many things aligned with my interests. My feed never failed.
But we’ve all heard the saying “too much of anything can be a bad thing. “
My search page became boring, everything started to blend in. I no longer wanted to see things that were tailored to me.
I began craving life and all of its attributes that differed from mine.
If I’m being honest, my experiences on Instagram started feeling like an episode of black mirror.
FYI: Black mirror is a British-based television show whose episodes explore a diversity of genres, but most are set in near-future dystopia using science fiction technology.
Check out the preview below.
Focusing on the word Dystopia, which was used to describe the setting of the show, when broken down, some attributes stated were heavy censoring of information or denial of free-thinking, worshiping an unattainable goal, the complete loss of individuality, and heavy enforcement of conformity.
I think we can all admit to seeing these things play out or even experiencing them while interacting with social media.
Simply put, I just miss the old days. I want to see my old high school friend’s pet cat, and my neighbor’s project car, I want a natural chronology back and the ability to see the beautiful people I elected to follow again.
I think we’d all benefit from a break from our curated Instagram worlds.
Instead of having to read articles on how to hack the algorithm, why not just have the freedom to explore without limits or surveillance?
Author: Dee Michel