Fed up with pretty

Sorry, but I need to chew off your ear for a bit with my whiny elder millenial blogpost.

I have just become more and more frustrated with Instagram (and short video mediums like Instagram reels or Tiktok, which are basically the same) in the last weeks and months. I am – so to say – fed up with pretty.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to use my private Instagram account. I love all the great body positivity content on there and the doggo content and the van traveling pictures and the historical cooking ideas and the fashion posts from designers I have never heard of before coming into my feed. If I have a minute or two, I will look at some pretty pictures, then switch the phone off again and be done with it. Pretty has a time and a place, but I always thought, that the combination of mediums makes the charme. Get a taste in one medium, switch to the other for more.
But since using it for my living history projects a little more and after trying to keep up with the algorithm for a bit, I find it so frustrating to use. With my living history account, I follow a lot of accounts on this plattform that share our hobby, many of them educational and I sometimes switch off the phone in annoyance.

If I take the time to share something with you, I want to make it worth your while. I want you to learn something. I don’t want you to waste your limited time on this planet with looking at how pretty my dress looks. I want you to learn the details of that dress, I want to tell you why this dress is important for you, personally. I want you to notice the parts that you wouldn’t notice otherwise and what I find fascinating about them.
Plus: If I take that time, I want it to be there for a longer time than just the two seconds it takes you to swipe over it and forget it. I want people to be able to go through my posts later and discover something I wrote before and interact with it.

I like discourse. And Instagram makes interaction so hard. I want people to share and discuss my content, I want them to give their insight and their opinion and I want to give my insight and opinion on their posts too. I think the Living History community lives off of discourse. And it is just so frustratingly easy to spit out anything on Instagram and Tiktok and not receive questions or criticism of any kind. And there is just looooooads of disinformation on there that nobody ever discusses.
And I mean meaningfull interaction. I don’t just want to catch you with that pretty picture, ask you a superficial question about your day while I really couldnt give less of a fuck about the answers, just so you interact with the post and push my algorithm chances. God, how I hate clickbait. And sometimes I just feel like I have to do clickbaity things because otherwise, I won’t have anybody to read my posts. It feels dirty and it feels wrong and still I catch myself doing it all the time. I know exactly what works, I know what will give me most of the likes. It is the pretty stuff, it is  the candle light moments in the medieval house, the young girls in nice dresses, the babies in garb. But that is mostly the stuff that is the least interesting to know about. Sometimes you throw a provocative opinion in there and wait for the internet to explode on it and that works as well. But I am not here for the clicks, I am not here to earn money, I am here because I genuinely care about other people learning and thinking about things and not in an outrage-y manner either, in a manner that encourages nuance and discussion. But they will „heart“ my pretty pictures and ignore my posts with longer texts.

Third: If you are reading this very sentence, this here would be long past the end of an Instagram post with 2200 signs, including hashtags. This is already more than the information I can give on a post on Instagram. And obviously, short information for a short taste of a topic is totally fine, but I couldn’t even link a longer blogpost, a detailed scientific article or an interesting video essay or other research ressources on a topic I am talking about. Because Instagram doesn’t allow me that or at least you can’t click it or copy it and let’s be honest, you’re not gonna take the time to memorize the URL and go look it up in your browser, are you?
And especially when it comes to cultural history, short info is usually bad info. You want to tell people about nuances, you want them to know that our past isn’t black and white, that their culture and other peoples culture is not a monolith. You want them to be properly informed, you want them to ask questions. And they dont ask questions if you give them some heavily oversimplyfied fact in a 10 second reel. They might even form dangerous half knowledge or opinions on it.

 

Now you will say: Why, silly Agnes, Instagram is the wrong medium for all of that. You have a blog and a Facebook page! Why not use that? Well because Facebook is literally where the boomers and elder millenials meet. You won’t meet the young millenials and Gen Z people here that you want to give all that information to. They are on Twitter, Tiktok and Instagram. There is an entire generation out there that will be informed by 250 sign posts, dumbed down short-info, 20 second videos and completely meaningless prettyness that they will have forgotten in seconds and these plattforms don’t want them to leave to see something else, they want them to stay on that plattform, because it makes them money. And that is why they will make it very hard to combine mediums into a broader picture. And realising that makes me so very frustrated. I don’t want to dumb down my content and I don’t want to oversimplify, but I might have to in order to reach somebody to tell the nuance to and then I can’t tell them the nuance under the restrictions of the plattform. And the older I become, the more I know, the more frustrating it becomes.

I don’t even know how to end this post. I have no outlook onto the future to finish this, neither positive, nor negative. I just needed to rant for a bit and maybe find some consolation in your words (which you will have to leave me on Facebook because data protection laws make it so fucking hard for websites to work with comment systems nowadays…)