Ever notice how little negativity there seems to be on Instagram compared with Facebook? I’ve seen people on IG talk smack a few times and it just looks sore out the gate. To ‘like’ anything on the platform requires pressing a heart, and the visual component of psyche is often more affirmative like that. There’s almost a fiery, earthy suchness to Instagram in the way it ‘shows’ immediate experience. It’s at least slower to upset people, even if you’re looking at someone’s lame aesthetic choices. Not unlike how people often rally around visual art and music with a more cohesive bond than the written or spoken word.
Of course, there’s also writing on IG, video of discourse, possibility of opinion clashes... but the images upon which these things are draped, the composition of one’s wall or grid, the more frequent use of alter-egos... Instagram is slightly less pinned to the egoic than, say, Facebook. Well, I should say it’s pinned -differently- to the egoic, because quite a lot of personal identity is abstracted from image and gods know how many people sell a fake version of their lives on the ‘Gram.
Zuckerberg’s sales project is a bit airier. The commingling of voices and opinions and vitriol; the disassociation of leaving a mean comment about the life work of someone you’ll never meet — although that’s common on YouTube and possible *virtually* anywhere. Facebook is overrun with these dynamics. I recall from Ira Progoff’s notes on the I Ching his words, “The wind drives things about, breaking apart what has previously been united.” And language can do that. That’s why there exists the phrase ‘the sword of the tongue’ — from rap lyrics to the tarot suit of thought, ‘Swords’ is the prevailing motif. Wielded for what? To bring together or divide? One sees a lot of both, on Facebook in particular it seems.
The primacy of the image, in the fiery sense, can be more unifying. A ‘public figure’ (lol) flaunting this or that on Insta might stir resentment in some, but I suppose it can be a reminder of what you might accomplish if you get your shit together, or use better filters or whatever.
Or it could make one red with rage at another person’s audacity to... be themselves? How dare they. Sell a lie? That too. In the earthy sense, one might be all green with envy perhaps, but sense-perception — just seeing something, is kind of neutral too. ‘Oh, that person took a walk in the forest, or caught a fish.'
On Facebook, we have a large room full of people arguing. Perhaps Twitter would work that way if it wasn’t capable of so much more ongoing reach than a Facebook wall (save for Fb posts’ isolated viral moments). More frequent hashtag use with Twitter and Instagram alike seem to bridge the gap from inner circle to outer world.
I’m not trying to stratify different social media platforms across pillars of psyche in such a boxy manner, but rather bring attention to how one medium or another will have us leaning into different ways of seeing, feeling, and interacting with each other.
I remember the first time, in my early teens, a dream of mine contained the experience of staring at a web browser in the astral. I don’t remember what exactly was displayed, but it was something like a message board interface — hardwired into my consciousness in all the ways.
The youngest of major social media ventures, like TikTok and Snapchat before it, seem to whittle down features and attention span to fewer and fewer moments, and it becomes further apparent the double-edged magic of what they offer.
No doubt, the next time you get in the garden or go swimming at the hole, if you have a smartphone it will likely be nearby. This much seems a near-guarantee. Rather than telling myself otherwise, I like to reflect on the ways in which the shapes and interfaces a phone contains shape my psyche and emotional gravity. How to control this molding.
Which moving system imprints — what apps are pulling strings in the elemental spread of your psyche?
[ Artwork: "Neural Rust" by Lasse Hoile. ]