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The Instagram account @myspace.2007s (510 followers) catalogs a particular bimbocore subculture of 2000s Myspace. Think Legally Blonde goes clubbing: pink flip phone mirror selfies, heavy eyeliner, Lindsey Lohan, thongs emerging emphatically from jean shorts. It's unclear if the account is meant to be consumed as an archival project, a meme page, a mood board, or if it's just the output of some aimless bot. But looking at it has the effect of looking up at the night sky and for the first time pondering just how tiny and inconsequential you are. Just to name a few existential crises: an account that represents about 300 of the 15 billion user photos on a megaplatform that was too big to fail, celebrities that once felt inescapable that now feel like hazy fever dreams, vibes that are far enough in the past to come back and bite us.
It begs the question: will some decade-in-the-future platform have an account called @instagram.2023? Or more hair-raisingly: will we be essential enough to be posted on it?
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The Dead-Internet Theory—a conspiracy theory that says the internet died in the mid 2010s and is now almost entirely filled with AI-generated content attempting to control our thoughts—was profiled by Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic as recently as 2021, but already feels remarkably quaint with the explosion of generative AI in the past few months:
Compared to the Internet of say 2007...the internet today is entirely sterile. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do, see, read, or experience anymore…Yes, the Internet may seem gigantic, but it’s like a hot air balloon with nothing inside…
There is a large-scale, deliberate effort to manipulate culture and discourse online and in wider culture by utilizing a system of bots and paid employees whose job it is to produce content and respond to content online in order to further the agenda of those they are employed by.
Strategies for redirecting attention
TAG, YOU'RE IT Go to your own Instagram profile and click the tagged in tab. Choose a photo, click to that person's profile, then their tagged photos. Continue like this, navigating Instagram exclusively through tagged photos, noting people's follower counts along the way. Try to find a profile with as few followers as possible. You may retrace your steps if you get stuck. Tell me what you found! Reply, comment, or forward an email to firstname.lastname@example.org: I may feature it in a future post.
Internet diving hauls presented without context