Why did Instagram censor one photo and not the other? Easy-peasy:
1. Social media is constantly engaged in mind control. It doesn’t understand satire, and it is especially hostile to any satire of its core market, in the case of Instagram, young, heterosexual women.
2. Human beings and their societies favors the young and beautiful over the not young and less-than-beautiful, and no amount of complaining and protesting is going to change that. Call it “systemic lookism.”
3. Trusting social media to be fair or intelligent is naïve and foolish.
The back-story: Last week Australian comic Celeste Barber posted a parody images of her imitating a post from former Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel. Instagram censored it, saying that it “goes against our community guidelines on nudity or sexual activity” The identical pose of the conventionally alluring Swanepoel, however, was deemed just fine when it was posted. The Horror!
The “gotcha!” worked; Instagram apologized and restored Barber’s version.
- It’s a Pyrrhic victory at best. Social media has far too much power to mold public values and sensibilities, and those who run it do not have the wisdom, perspective or intelligence to use handle such power responsibly.
- Instagram particularly, and social media generally, is designed for narcissists, and indeed feeds and magnifies narcissism. I have a quickly lapsing Facebook friend who must post four or five photos of herself every day. She’s an attractive woman, but this is pathological.
- Reality check: the two photos aren’t “the same”; they are materially different, and it’s dishonest to pretend otherwise. I am reminded of a sexual harassment controversy on a staff I was in charge of years ago. A male staffer sparked complaints because he had a photo of his wife, a swimsuit model, in a particularly skimpy outfit in his cubicle. Several women said the photo the workplace a hostile environment. The staffer protested: Would he get the same reaction if his wife was 50 pounds overweight and had the face of a horse? Good point, I said.
And I told him to keep photos of his wife in anything but a Gore-Tex jacket off his desk. Eventually I banned all photos of family and friends in the common area.
You can read the activist’s lament here.