Sarah Frier: Is Instagram A Good Window Onto the Pandemic World?
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Sarah Frier, Bloomberg News reporter and author of No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, discusses how we are seeing a very different Instagram than what we’re used to.
From the episode:
Sarah Frier: Well, right now we’re seeing a very different Instagram than what we’re used to. We are seeing that people are sharing a little bit of their vulnerability and they’re sharing their anxiety and their depression around what’s happening right now. It’s a little bit less of the the peacocking, the personal branding, the promotional aspect of Instagram, but we’ve become so used to that it has shaped our economy over the last decade.
The other thing that we’ve really seen change on Instagram is how people use it. It’s not just for scrolling through updates. People are tuning into live video more than ever, such as live concerts, tutorials, and workout sessions. They’re also using messaging a whole lot more. So we have seen that that social media products, including Instagram, have really become part of the infrastructure of our society as something to keep us connected to each other as we’re all at home.
Andrew Keen: How about generalizations we can make, particularly from getting a sense of what we’re doing today on Instagram? How are we more human, more sympathetic, or more empathetic?
Sarah Frier: The interesting thing about Instagram is that it has really made us, for better or for worse, so much more self-conscious about how other people view us. We’ve all been trained on building something of a personal brand there. You don’t really post a photo unless you feel like it’s going to reflect something about you that you want the world to see. That’s just human nature.
What’s happened in the pandemic is that we have really been self-conscious in a good way about not trying to to post anything that would be insensitive or not about the most important issue at hand or with consideration for how people are suffering right now. You wouldn’t post going out to Michelin-star restaurants or going on an amazing vacation. You wouldn’t even post memories of those things as often as you might have, and and I think that’s probably a good thing that we have we have trained ourselves to have a lot more empathy. Now, the the self-consciousness of Instagram remains, and the striving for follower account remains. I think that’s just how we measure our relevance in society right now, and in addition to relevance, how a lot of people’s economic potential is tied into their Instagram. It’s been interesting to see that get very disrupted. People who are used to selling optimism and used to selling an aspirational lifestyle on Instagram can’t do it the same way.
Sarah Frier reports on social media companies for Bloomberg News out of San Francisco. Her award-winning features and breaking stories have earned her a reputation as an expert on how Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter make business decisions that affect their future and our society. Frier is a frequent contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Television. She attended the University of North Carolina, where she earned a degree in journalism and edited the school paper before joining Bloomberg in 2011. No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram is her first book.