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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Instagram iPhone/Android Debate Smacks of Insufferable Privilege

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 10:30 AM

PHOTO BY ZACH VEGA, WIKIPEDIA
  • Photo by Zach Vega, Wikipedia

When I saw Buzzfeed's collection of irate and infantile tweets in reaction to the announcement that hip photo filter app Instagram would no longer be exclusive to iPhone, but rather, released to the unwashed Android-using masses, I immediately recalled one of several brilliant bits from Louis C.K.'s stand-up special Hilarious.

"We're the worst people so far. Because we have this beautiful thing and we hate it. I never saw a person going 'Look at what my phone can do!' Nobody does that. They all go 'This fucking thing, it sucks! I can't get it to ... ugh!' Give it a second, would ya? Could you give it a second? It's going to space, can you give it a second to get back from SPACE?! ... 'I hate my phone, it sucks!' No, it doesn't! It's amazing! The shittiest cell phone in the world is a miracle!"

See more of Louis' argument in the video clip below.

Because even those who have criticized Apple users' sheer disgust at a broader level of access to Instagram -- such as Dan Lyons over at The Daily Beast -- there is still neglect of the elitism any smartphone user has over people with regular ol' cell phones, or (gasp) no phones at all.

We're all absurd people who take for granted what a luxury it is to be able to check e-mail, map a route, deposit a check, and transmit every narcissistic impulse in our being to the entire world via our phones. Phones, devices that were born from two tin cans and a piece of string. We are so very privileged to be able to procure, continuously pay for, and have time to fiddle with these gadgets. Some of us simply fail to recognize this, while some -- like enraged iPhone users -- are openly riding this entitlement train as far as it can possibly go.

Further, the Instagram iPhone/Android debate has devolved into an argument about the pros and cons of different operating systems and features: keyboards versus touch screens, an open app market versus the App Store. The problem isn't in the debate over the technological merits of each device. The problem is that people are filled with contempt, but not because their phone no longer functions with incredible ease and seemingly limitless possibilities. No, they are angry because someone with a different phone can now do one thing that heretofore was only available for a specific subset of people.

So now we're above sharing? You share all those photos of yourself -- your dog, your food. Hell, I'm not above posting pictures of my dinner to everyone I know on Facebook, using a photo filter app that makes my Brussels sprouts looks decidedly vintage (note: on my ANDROID). Why would I begrudge anyone else the right to waste time and fill the Internet with their mediocre creations? I recognize that certain developers and programmers, technological infrastructures, and economic privileges have aligned to allow me to express myself dully with very sophisticated software that I'm lucky to be able to access easily.

Louis C.K. is right. We are the worst people. Expanding access to technology, even amongst other privileged folks? "Ew." "Yuck." "Gross."

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Sylvie Kim

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