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Instagram and Capitalism

Don’t expect this to be eloquent, expect it to be passionate.

We live in a capitalist society.

This is something I’ve been dwelling on considerably for a long time, and especially over the last few days. You may have heard of Instagram’s newest proposed updates to remove chronology from our feeds. This might not seem like a massive change but it could have dire consequences on smaller accounts and small business owners, myself included. It is unlikely that small accounts and businesses will still receive the same exposure as they would otherwise, for being swallowed by the larger accounts and celebrities. If you would like to learn more (and sign the petition to prevent this) please click here.

But, how does this link to capitalism? At the very base of it, this is a prime example of the capitalist We live in a capitalist society, and that's easily told just by taking a look at social media.nature of our society. The implications of ridding the chronological feeds instils a sense of capitalism – bigger, more famous and wealthier overshadowing the smaller and poorer. By using algorithms and removing the chronological order in feeds, Instagram is following in the footsteps of it’s mother company, Facebook, and if we take a look at Facebook’s progression over the years we can see the similarities and predict future changes. By introducing this algorithm that shows popular posts at the top of the feed, it allows Instagram to manipulate what the users see and when. Naturally, the next step is monetization. Just like Facebook introduced, businesses will be able to pay to promote their posts to the top of feeds – just like the sponsored ads you now see on Instagram, again following in the footsteps of Facebook. This is a real life example of capitalism, away from the realms of social media, in the way that it is large conglomerates having power over our lives.

This is something I feel really passionate about because I understand the need for the Facebook conglomerate and it’s owners to make money and I don’t lose any respect for them because of that but what really upsets me is that it is to such detriment of working class people, or any person worse off.

Of course, the natural argument is that without Instagram and Facebook anyway we wouldn’t have this problem. They are doing us a service as it is, stop complaining. Of course, this is true, but it’s also true that the use of social media and the Internet is something that has become almost vital within the society we live in. It offers, for the most part, the everyday person the opportunity to do something that they might never have had the opportunity to do otherwise. Look at the rise of YouTubers straight away for an example. The internet has become a part of our society that will damage the progression of equality should it be removed. Removing it will be a step backwards for helping our nations and societies as social media and the Internet has grown to play a vital part in society. That’s why I am weary of addressing such situation, because I feel as though I have little right to do so, but I am passionate about it nevertheless because I strongly believe in the concept of equal opportunities and the work that these social media sites could do and the positive impact that they could have could be so beneficial, not to hyperbolise the situation, to the entirety of this world and it’s future.

My frustration comes in the fact that the impact these larger companies have over our lives – the impact that we have allowed them to have – means that they have no obligation to listen or consider what we are saying. It means that if the 195,776 (at the time of writing this) people that have signed the petition to keep Instagram chronological were to boycott Instagram entirely, which in itself is unlikely, it would hardly matter at all because there would still be over 400 million users on Instagram, so what should they care for the 200,000 who have decided to try and protest if it’s not doing any damage? However powerful we feel, we are insignificant.

I will write this post and I will publish it. If I’m lucky, a couple of hundred people will see it. A couple of hundred. As much as I wish it was, that’s not enough people to make a change because too often change is only achieved through fear. Even if those couple of hundred people shared this post, I would still only be likely to reach another couple of hundred people, again not nearly enough to instill fear. But I am writing this because I have hope. I have hope that I will start a fire within that couple of hundred people and inspire them to speak out also because there is power in numbers and, even if I never reach those numbers, I’ll reach even less if I never try.

My frustration doesn’t stop with conglomerates such as Facebook and Instagram not listening to their users. Let’s talk on a national scale.

I live in the UK. The current Government is the Conservative party and there has been issue upon issue that I have spoken out upon that will never gain any recognition from this party because the truth is not that we live in a democracy, although we might live in a considerably more democratic society than others. The truth is that political parties will never be able to please everyone. I’m well aware of that. But, as a young person whose life will be dramatically affected by the changes made by them, I am offered little input because I am not deemed “mature” enough. Frankly, at sixteen I am not old enough to vote. Therefore I have no input into the changes that see university fees soaring and housing prices going through the roof – pardon the pun – because I cannot vote. I cannot vote and so the Government have no problem in ignoring what I have to say because they are not scared of losing my vote. I can write post after post and letter after letter to the local MP, to the Prime Minister, to the Mayor of London but the chance of them even reading it themselves are slim, never mind taking action because of it’s content. However powerful we feel, we are insignificant.

The Government and people in positions of power control what we do, what we say, what we consume. If the Government suddenly decided that they did not like what I was saying on this blog, of course they possess the power to remove it, or at least from search engines, and it would be naive for us to think that they don’t have that power. A key example of this is something I’ve spoken about before in regards to the anti-austerity protests and media blackout, which you can read here. This is an example of both how the Government can control what we say and what we consume. The Government and large corporations and conglomerates, such as Rupert Murdoch and News Corp, have control over the media, what is released and what we consume. Sensationalist language and biased points of view overwhelm the newspapers and tabloids that so many people fall victim to reading on a daily basis. This is a startling show of manipulation.

I’m not saying that the year is 1984 (an Orwell reference), but I’m also not saying that it’s far from it. We live in the most democratic of dictatorships, controlled and manipulated by big businesses, our Governments and the media and, in my view, this is evidence of the capitalist society that we are living in.

There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be someone that reads this that greatly disagrees with what I have to say because this is based on my opinion and there’s always someone who will disagree with my opinion. If you would like to discuss your opposing opinion, don’t feel afraid; I’m open minded. However, if any part of you agrees with me, I really urge you to leave a comment and share this post. It would be a great help and I would really appreciate it.

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SJ

A small-time teen blogger since '12.

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