http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cvt8qiDthsg

Today’s video is a funny and witty parody (criticism) of one the most successful apps of the last few years. Instagram is an app that was created by two students at Stanford, Kevin Systrom (CEO, co-founder) and Mike Krieger (co-founder). Instagram facilitates photo sharing and even allows users to give their photos an artistic touch using a number of effects (filters, frames, and retro and vintage colors).

Once again we are faced with the challenging topic of the misuse (abuse) of technology. It is necessary to keep coming back and reflect on this topic and how we respond to it, as it is so influential in our lives,

We would like to clarify, as ever, that it would be naïve to criticize apps and the technology behind them as a negative force. Technology is really useful (we use Instagram!). However, as is the case with our freedom, when considered as the be all and end all without the parameters of an external truth that guides it, it can become a harmful and even uncontrollable power.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cvt8qiDthsg (DEAD LINK)

Additionally, we recognize that the video has a few moments of humor that could be inappropriate for some. Nevertheless, they’re not without a certain foundation in reality and at times are helpful in shaking us out of our indifference. In any case, the video should be used with prudence, taking account the respective sensibility, age, situation, etc…

Apostolic Elements

1. Having clarified this, we should say that the video includes brilliant stereotypes which it is impossible not to identify with. We see them every day on social networks.  The challenge is to understand that it is not just a joke. We don’t want to share this video simply to makes fun of others and ourselves; on the contrary, we are trying to draw attention to a real problem.  We laughed, yes – at least those of us who use it did – but because these stereotypes are proof of certain “spaces” and common actions which we see when we misuse technology. On the other hand, satire makes us laugh because it turns these stereotypes into something ridiculous by exaggerating situations and people. But in order for us to distinguish the extreme, the absurd and the ridiculous from the normal, appropriate, common sense approach to technology, we need parameters. What would happen – and no doubt already happens – if everything we see in videos we see as commonplace? If there were people – and there are – watching this video who don’t understand that there is a harsh criticism hidden in it? I believe that an unpleasant feeling when watching these images is a good sign and an interesting starting point for asking ourselves ‘So what is normal?

2. Often, these stereotypes reflect us. We are the ones who think ourselves great artists, or deep thinkers, or original designers, tricked by the illusion of technology… and we are the ones who don’t realize that the truth is that we aren’t doing anything (or very little) creative – it’s just ready-made touch-ups. Surprise! More that half of my friends have posted exactly the same photo, a dog with glasses, classic… It’s unbelievable! In the end the aim is nothing more than to gain a starring role in the life of others. If you’ve really thought about living for these “five likes”, you should ask yourself: Was it worth it? To get the photo, the low-cut dress, the thousands of expressions, the time I wasted… Was it worth it? And what did I gain?

3. You are the owner of whatever you don’t publish. This should be the starting point of internet use. Are you sure of how others are going to interpret the photos that you upload?  Are you sure of who is going to see you and who will not? If you answer: it doesn’t matter to me, I am how I am, then fair enough, but if you aren’t bothered then why upload it? Why do you share through social networks? There is something that doesn’t make sense. This has a lot to do with the first point. If we don’t have the common sense to tell the difference between normal and ridiculous then, although our intentions aren’t bad, we risk being misunderstood.

4. Finally, I believe that it is fundamental to highlight one of the most tragic situations which come from the misuse of technology: we stop living in the present, in order to be connected – even to to the point of becoming enslaved by a virtual “life”. There is a risk that virtual reality has more weight in my life than the real world, and ends up ruining the “now”. More than just a fun song, the final images in the video are shameful (and real). There are people who don’t enjoy the moment they are living in, as they spend so much time working to share their experiences so that everyone can see them. They end up missing out on the intensity of the experience, taking photos for others to see. There are sensations, smells, colors and other shades that only last a few seconds, which require more attention, and which we may miss out on as we look sideways so the photo doesn’t blur. It is worth examining ourselves and straightening things out.

Questions for Discussion

Which stereotype do you identify with? Does it seem normal to you, or justifiable?  Why is that?  What does this sketch bring out in you; annoyance, smiles, sadness? Why? In your opinion, what is a normal attitude when we talk about using Instagram (or any similar network)?

From 1 to 10, how much do you see yourself affected by this dynamic of technology dependency? Do you remember any moment which you have not lived fully because you were worried about facebook, or uploading a photo, or sending a tweet?  What consequences do you see this having in the future?

Finally, it’s important to remember what was said at the beginning. Social networks, such as Instagram, in themselves are indifferent. How we use them determines their value. As such, it’s always important that in addition to a self-examination and critique, that we also ask more positive questions such as: In what ways these networks really enrich my life and the lives of others? How can what I shared help others? How can I use this means for doing apostolate? What are some concrete ways that I can make sure that I am using technology in a moderate and balanced way? How can I help my friends and family to do the same?

 

The original video (posted here with a slight cut due to content) was produced by the CollegeHumor channel on Youtube. We are not, however, in any way recommending any of their other content.

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