Is Facebook's latest purchase the next step on a path to owning our actual faces, asks Lauren Bravo, not entirely in jest…
Is Facebook’s latest purchase the next step on a path to actually owning our faces, asks Lauren Bravo, not entirely in jest…
A couple of week ago, Facebook bought Instagram, for $1bn. Your reaction to this statement will be anywhere on a gamut from vein-popping rage to “What’s bought what? I was only looking for Parish Pump”, but the important thing to know is that lots of people are worried. Lots of people are worried, of course, because this could just be another step on the path to Facebook owning our actual faces. And with them, every smudge of detail associated with us, from bank details to bra sizes to internet browsing habits.
The fear, as far as I can discern from the ragey blogs, is that soon Facebook will be a flashier version of the marauder’s map from Harry Potter, telling the world precisely where we are and what we’re doing at every possible point in time. Lauren’s at work. Lauren’s on the bus. Lauren’s lingering for free samples in the Selfridges Food Hall. Again.
It also means that those without a Facebook account will likely be forced to get one if they wish to use Instagram. Which I can agree, on principal, is wrong. If I had to sign up to something hateful, like the Daily Mail online, in order to use something wonderful, like the Daily Mail online celeb gossip sidebar, I wouldn’t like it either.
But there’s also a little part of me that feels it’s fair punishment for seasoned Instagrammers to have to mix with us Facebook plebs. Think you’re too cool for Facebook? Arrange your social life via traditional, rustic ‘phone calls’? Got better things to do than spend an hour stalking the latest addition to People I Went To School With Who Are Now Pregnant? Tough – Mark Zuckerberg has you under his big blue thumb and he’s squishing you like a hipster moth.
Frankly, I’ve always thought Instagram is cheating. The iPhone/Android app, which takes photos and uses fancy filters to make them look instantly retro, arty and cool, has become tool no.1 for convincing others you lead lovely whimsical life. (Of course by using the words ‘retro, arty and cool’ I’ve instantly become less so, but one snap with Instagram could turn that around).
Everyone’s hot via Instagram. Everyone’s bohemian and interesting. Everyone’s on a picnic in the late 60s, with Jane Birkin sparking up Gauloises just out of the frame. It isn’t fair. Normal people with normal, un-tinted, un-processed faces just can’t expect to compete.
Of course, I only think all this because I don’t have Instagram. I don’t have it because there is no Instagram for Blackberry, and there is no Instagram for Blackberry, because a Blackberry camera is about as technically proficient as the pinhole cameras one used to make in science lessons. And also, I have food smears on the lens.
So I’m not saying that forcing the app’s 30 million-odd users to upload their lovely whimsically retro pictures through Facebook is a good thing. I’m really not. But just think: no matter how artistically tinted and bohemian and interesting the photo, there will still be a good chance that their Auntie Marge will write something embarrassing underneath it. And until I get a better phone, this pleases me.