In a recent story, the Atlantic tried to show how awful of a place Instagram has become, and generally speaking I agree. The piece, which I encourage you to read for yourself, talks about harassment and it being rampant around the social media platform–which is inherently due in part to its design. The article uses specific incidents where people have been harassed and trolled by complete morons on the internet. And if you’re a photographer, then you’re most likely aware of how much this happens–especially when it comes to gear.
Before you read the piece, I’d like to remind you all of a simple fact of the internet that has been true for years and years with specific examples: The internet is an inherently terrible place where complete cowards show off cowardly tendencies and bespew toxicity combined with a deplorable level of effectiveness when it comes to communication. Let’s take a look:
- Forums: perhaps the oldest areas of the internet where vitriol from photographers has been thrown. Look at DPReview’s forums.
- Comments: Comments are easy places for people to spill toxicity. The moment you take them away and force them to write an email, their mindset usually changes or they don’t do it.
- Facebook: If you’re in Facebook groups, you can often tell who the toxic people are. If they’re your friends, then they ruin everything. There’s a number of you who I know are reading this and I have you specifically in mind as I write this article. Many of you have been banned from our Facebook group.
- Twitter: Do we really need to be more transparent here?
- Tumblr: We all know just how terrible Tumblr can be.
- Instagram: Anyone and everyone can comment until you ban/block people.
Now, this isn’t a call to justify the actions of the trolls. Instead, it’s pointing out that toxic people are just going to be toxic people. And as community managers in the photography world, it’s our responsibility to steer a community. Instagram, arguably the worst but largest platform for photographers, is filled with terrible people. I also think it’s our responsibility as photographers to continue to spread the idea of good intent. We’ve spoken about this here many times before and unfortunately, in the past few years, everyone and their mother has popped up as a photographer with no idea about ethics and others.
Obviously, Instagram doesn’t care. They only care that you’re on their platform and they can serve you ads. They’ll put the responsibility on the user.
Head on over to the Atlantic and take a look.