I provided the original Instagram FAQ. Information in demand was missing from the internet and I enjoy researching technology and helping people. I wrote two posts in 2011 and 2012 about Instagram privacy which still rank in Google’s top 10 search results for related terms.
Six years and 700+ comments later, here’s what I’ve learned about human frailty, desire, shame, and searching.
In 2011, Instagram was growing in popularity but lacked a formal FAQ. Users desperately sought information about whether their accidental photo likes would be visible to their exes and frenemies.
I’ve answered hundreds of questions in the comments and continue to receive more each week. After six years of fielding queries about Instagram profile privacy, blocking, hiding likes, push notifications, and whether video views are public, I have concluded that we waste far too much time worrying about the visibility of our activity. We feel unnecessary shame. We want to hide what we consider shameful: voyeurism, the masochism of cyber stalking an ex, or simply our fascination with others’ lives. These are timeless human behaviors that have adapted to the available means. Look at songs like Don’t Come Around Here No More and On Every Street. Everyone can relate to these lyrics. Songs like these play in my head as I read through the comments on my Instagram posts. We’re nostalgic, we’re sentimental, we seek information and updates on lost loves, lost friends, lost places.
It’s clear that we use social media for many reasons. One is to satisfy our hunger for connection and validation. We do this less and less in person and increasingly online. So much is lost in this digital version of interacting.
I’ve seen the fear of being found out for behaviors that are common and understandable. We have been given tools to passively, secretly watch the highlight reels of each others’ lives. So naturally we watch. And we slip and click and immediately feel ashamed and self-conscious, exposed for engaging in the very behaviors that the creators of these apps and our fellow users expect and encourage.
Tom Petty asked his ex to “stop walking down my street”. She probably wouldn’t want to be seen but couldn’t help herself. Now she’d be embarrassed to be caught accidentally liking his two-year old photo. Mark Knopfler uses the metaphor of a detective looking for a missing person when writing about an ex he just can’t forget. Ani DiFranco captures the same sentiment in Gravel, still under her ex’s spell. We keep holding on to each other, to memories, to old flames, to friendships that dried up, and to places we’ve left behind. We seek connection and belonging, and we cling to the moments when we felt it. But we’re looking somewhere that can never meet our needs.
This Fourth of July, I had a memorable WTF moment with one of the rudest people I’ve ever met. What makes it noteworthy is that many consider his behavior normal. I tell the story in this interview with StandFor: Technology as an Escape Mechanism
…To put it in context with technology: the Like button came out in 2009, then Facebook’s first mobile app was released in 2010, but it was pretty awful. Smartphones outsold PCs for the first time in the last quarter of 2011. Facebook improved its app, and with every iteration, it became smoother and more addictive, fueling phubbing.
In the U.S., having and responding to work email on your phone at all hours became expected as smartphone use increased, encouraging the unhealthy always-on worker mentality. The pendulum swung further when Instagram hit a penetrative point, having 150 million MAUs by late 2013, three years after launch.
I’d say 2012-2013 is when phubbing became really noticeable.
These social apps are engineered to be highly addictive. It’s a business that profits off usage. I noticed people checking their phones not just for text messages (actual communication) but being addicted to refreshing their social feeds like slot machines (passive, receptive entertainment) because the apps for Facebook and Instagram became so addictive. Facebook became the internet for many people. These apps are designed to encourage addictive checking just like cigarettes and McDonald’s fries cause cravings. Smartphones with apps, messaging, and email provide what became a socially acceptable escape mechanism for the boring or awkward moments of daily life…
Photo credit: Heather Haberkern (Heather is a talented stylist, interior designer, and photographer who led the StandFor photo shoot)
Harry Joiner knows how to get a good job. Sandra Chesnutt knows how to keep a good job. Here’s a bit of what they taught me. If you understand and apply these tips, your career will benefit.
1. “The richest actors aren’t rich because they’re the best actors. They’re rich because they get the best parts.” -Harry Joiner
Harry Joiner is the real deal in recruiting, and that’s rare nowadays. He looks at a candidate from a holistic career perspective, not from a single job req, time to fill, recruiter comp point of view.
A) I took a lot of notes during helpful calls with Harry over the years, but this line always stuck with me. In order to be successful, you need a role in which you can succeed. There are many variables in whether or not you’re set up for success. When evaluating a job opportunity, ask yourself if it’s a good part. Look for a strong script, visionary but fair director, compelling story, solid supporting cast, and adequate budget – or whatever is important to you. What makes a good movie makes a good company. What makes a good part makes a good job. Consider how this role will help or hurt your next role.
B) The other piece here is obviously that a good agent helps actors get the best parts. A skilled recruiter is your career’s best friend. Try a few on for size. Ask for referrals from people in your field whom you respect or admire. Remember that most recruiters (especially on LinkedIn) are the equivalent of housewives calling themselves realtors. Everybody’s a recruiter just like everybody’s an entrepreneur.
If you’re in ecommerce, check out Harry’s job board: ecommerce jobs. Harry places serious talent, specializing in contingency based Manager, Director, VP, SVP, and CXO-level executive searches for transactional multichannel ecommerce.
2. “Write specific, personal compliments in thank-you notes.” -Sandra Chesnutt
Sandra is a friend and mentor, a savvy marketer and fantastic overall person who has been very helpful to me over the years. Sandra understands organizations, technology, and marketing on a fundamental level. She also has keen insight on managing professional relationships.
Okay thank-you note:
Thank you so much for the helpful call. I appreciate your time and insight. I look forward to talking again soon.
Great thank-you note:
Thank you so much for the helpful call. I loved the mirroring/last 3 words concept and the What I want/why I want it/benefits to you approach.
I especially like how you always offer actionable tips from either your own life/experience or outside, quality resources. But the best part is that you summarize these tips so I get the CliffsNotes version quickly, you make it applicable to me, and you provide an example that illustrates how I can use the tip. Plus, you always remember the full name of the source so I can seek more information.
Thanks again for your help.
People love handwritten cards.
Get a nice set like this from Crane’s or a little Etsy shop. These classic looking cards make a great impression – at about $1.90 per card, this small investment will pay dividends:
2016 was a year that everyone (in my echo chamber) was happy to see end. I reflected for a month, and here are six takeaways regarding health, happiness, social life, and apps:
- There is usually no Ctrl+Shift+T for life, but you can always open a new tab. Retweet.
(Hasty clicker? This browser hotkey reopens the last closed tab. It’s Ctrl+Shift+T on Windows and Command+Shift+T on Mac OS X. Works in most browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Try Command+Z on Safari.)
- Deleting Facebook from my phone made me read more books and go to bed happier. You’ve read the studies, you know Facebook makes you sad. Why are you still spending hours on it? I’m not saying you should quit, and I know there are good reasons to use Facebook. But time is the most valuable thing you have. The ideas and stories you read/see influence your outlook and mood.
Be discerning about what you let in. Add up all the hours you spent in 2016 letting Facebook wash over you with content chosen by its algorithm – not by you. Passive consumption can be dangerous (or at times, relaxing and perfectly okay). Bottom line: your time and attention are precious.
- Boxed wine is back/good. Black Box has a tasty Chilean cabernet and it’s an incredible value: you pay about $17 for the box, which contains four bottles. It’s award-winning wine that costs 40% less. It lasts six weeks in the fridge. You reduce your carbon footprint and the spigot harkens back to the jug of Gatorade at childhood soccer games. It’s hydration for adult sports that’s better for the planet and your wallet.
- Track your steps and walk around more. I hit the goal of 10,000 steps a day only about twice a week, but tracking it with the Pedometer++ app does make me move around more.
(Health tracking: I don’t do wearables because I don’t want a bluetooth device on my body 24/7. Here’s why. GMOs mess with your wiring; EMFs from tracking devices do the same. This app tracks steps while your phone is in your pocket or purse vs. a watch on your wrist. Those inches make a difference in exposure levels.)
- If you love a piece of art, buy it. Surround yourself with beauty. Go buy original art, whether it’s off the street or on Etsy or at a gallery (but don’t pay too much). Don’t buy mass-produced shit (unless you love it).
- See old friends whenever you can. Don’t trick yourself into believing that social media is a replacement for truly staying in touch. Make the drive, even if the visit is short. Schedule strategic layovers with enough time to grab lunch with a local friend. Bring a small gift (other than boxed wine). I recommend showing up with 99 cent bubbles on a spring day, like my college friend Shay.