Leaving Instagram (the stories, anyway)

Leaving Instagram. Or trying to leave, at least. The “stories” are a bit too stressful for me, even though I spend little time with them. Leaving is not so easy; the app keeps asking for my password and rejecting whatever I type in, but when I request a new password, no email arrives. Anyway, I gave Instagram a try. I would be fine with it if it weren’t for the aforementioned stories, those flurry-videos that appear at the top. They are like Facebook stories, but more imposing, a key part of the Instagram experience. What’s more, they encourage a kind of fake interaction—not because of the people who post them, not because of their content (which can be interesting, moving, beautiful, funny, etc.), but because of the way they work. They go by much too fast. And then you’re given just a handful of “reactions” to choose from. You can also type in a comment, but that seems like an imposition somehow. Probably no one cares what you do. But I would rather live in a world where things matter at least a little, and where I don’t have to become a cartoon.

I don’t mind staying there just for the posts and skipping the stories—and, for that matter, deleting the phone app, which I did just now. I don’t have time for apps like this, and I already have a healthy sense of my relative unimportance, without being reminded of it through hackneyed interactions. But I don’t mind checking out actual posts here and there. So a partial departure seems like the best solution.

I feel similarly about Facebook, but at least on Facebook I can get links, event information, etc. and leave a real comment now and then. The stories are a much smaller part of the whole, and they can easily be skipped. Instagram is set up to look glamorous and ephemeral: hints flash by, and if you don’t get them, you’re the one at fault. I think I can miss out on that party. Enough good things will still come my way.

I edited this piece a bit after posting it.

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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.

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    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.
     

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.

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    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

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