Instagram through the eyes of Don Draper, through the words of guest columnist Nikhil Menezes.
There is a crisis of confidence at Instagram HQ. It appears as if suddenly people have woken up to the fact that Instagram is nothing but an application that purposely makes the quality of pictures taken shittier in the pursuit of an intangible hipster ideal. It all started with the hipsters themselves, who saw Instagram going the way of Arcade Fire when they won the Grammy for best album in 2011. This has caused a severe backlash wherein residents of Brooklyn, Portland and San Francisco scour the streets with electron microscopes, supposedly celebrating the scientific accuracy that bourgeois ideals have held them back from achieving for so long. So, Mark Zuckerberg, who recently bought the application for a billion dollars (for real though) found the only man who could turn around this crisis. That man was Don Draper.
Instagram is more than an application. It’s not just some tile people tap on a glass screen in order to give their photos a certain veneer. I mean, sure that’s exactly what it is, but it’s more than that. Sure, it can make a picture of people playing beer pong look like something out of a Jacob Riis album, but guess what. Instagram isn’t just a product (Don lowers his eyebrows and looks out at the majestic Manhattan skyline). It’s a lifestyle.
We didn’t come into this world after nine months of gestation, followed by years of growing and maturing just to face the troubles of the world with nothing to protect us. What purpose does the placenta serve if the embryo it is feeding, the human life that it is helping to deliver, has to be birthed into a world with unadulterated sadness and hatred? This need we have to find happiness and love isn’t just natural, it’s inherently human. It’s a housewife baking a banana cream pie not because her family needs it, but because the kids want it (Don thinks wistfully of his former wife and wonders how it all went so wrong), it’s a hot dog vendor putting a little extra mustard on the bratwurst because he knows that Mr. Jones likes it that way, and yes, it’s a 19 year old girl using the polaroid option to make the picture of her and her friends look cool (Pete Campbell shuffles guiltily in his seat).
At first, Instagram was met with success only by those who found lo-fi music far superior to autotune, but it steadily seeped through, through slowly from this source of Neutral Milk down into the streams of Animal Collective until finally it cascaded into the watering hole of Coldplay, Mac Miller and Nicki Minaj. In short, you had all the bases covered, all smartphone demographics, a marketing team’s telos. But now you worry about the source, the streams and the tributaries that allowed this all to happen. But you don’t understand the forces that allowed these bodies of water to flow in the first place. And let me tell you, they are a lot stronger than local coffee shops and wearing hats indoors.
The Ancient Greek deity, Kronos – the first of the Titans – used to derive pleasure from devouring his young. It was only until his sixth child that his wife Rhea gave him a stone instead of a child to eat. So, while Kronos thought he had eaten all his children, his sixth child grew up, nurturing a will to kill his father. That child (Don takes a drag from his cigarette) was Zeus. These are the kinds of forces we are talking about gentlemen. These are primal forces. Natural forces. Human forces. These forces are beyond mere marketing, in fact perhaps the best thing we could do is just get out of the way.
So let’s not disappoint the placenta again. Let’s celebrate that delicious dessert waiting for us when we get home. Let’s tip the hot dog vendor for feeding us everyday with a smile. And most importantly, let’s kill those who attempt to eat us alive (Zuckerberg coughs softly). Oh and of course, let’s remember that Instagram is a culmination of all of this. Rose-tinted glasses, right in your phone. Hey, that actually has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?