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WTF, Internet? Being the first to do something stupid doesn’t make it less stupid

WTF-Internet-07_21_2013-headerInstagram has done a bang-up job of revolutionizing the way we create and share photos and video. All that talk about “democratizing” photography and videography is not just talk; people who didn’t have the means or the desire to make media are – at unstoppable rates.

That, of course, is the sunny side of these apps. But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows and kittens. Oh no. Apparently, humans have zero self-restraint. Giving us apps that greedily demand more, more, more and telling us that everything we share and post is important has killed any sense of “enough” we may have had.

Sometimes we confuse ‘new and different’ with ‘new and better.’ 

This week someone decided to go out and upload Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to Instagram. Yes, 15 seconds at a time. His motivation? “Just thought about it one day driving to work and started that night.” 

OK, look, I might take Star Wars fandom a little more seriously than I should, but I think we can all agree this is just a straight-up perversion of the movie and that we would rather rewatch every scene with Jar Jar Binks on an endless cycle than this noise.

That was an emotional reaction. I’m sorry … I don’t mean that. Nor do I wish it on anyone. 

As you can probably guess, this all was done by simply opening Instagram, pointing it at a screen playing the movie, and uploading. What need is there for this? Does it make Star Wars better? No, because that’s impossible. Does anyone want to watch it in 15-second clips? If you do, please never invite me to a viewing party.

Of course this strange take on fan art isn’t the only misuse of the app. The Steve Jobs movie trailer also debuted on Instagram this week. Who needs fancy TVs and computers when you’ve got a smartphone and an app that limits you to 15 seconds? It joins the first Vine trailer and will go down in the history books as a thing no one really cared about or was all that impressed with. 

I understand that nothing is immune to an interesting marketing scheme; that’s the world we live in and the consumer and business sectors are wildly overlapping. But what if you’re taking steps backward? Yes, I get it, disruption is happening, technologies like TV are being challenged and innovating … but sometimes we confuse “new and different” with “new and better.” What’s thought of as old-school and traditional can absolutely stand to step its game up, but I’m not so sure that Instagram reappropriations of movies and Instagram-specific trailers are really upping the ante here.

star wars ig movie

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should; but it’s not your fault. We’ve been trained that if you can upload it to a social site, well then hot damn, you should! The whole point of Instagram and apps like it were to create tools people didn’t have so they could make things they formerly couldn’t. But as far as I know, trailers worked out just fine before Instagram video, and we were also able to make crappy, copyright-infringing copies of Star Wars. Just make something new! Be interesting! Not everything becomes innovative just because you threw it up on Instagram or Twitter or Vine. 

So let’s all just stop trying to out-invent the next person. I would rather see a feed filled with photos of babies and dogs and sunsets and coffee art than one more attempt at reinventing how the platform. Because just because someone else hasn’t done it doesn’t make it good or better … it just means we were all smart enough to think “nah, who would actually want to see that?” 

Instagram was already a game-changer for digital photography – let’s not overextend, OK?

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