Bum Selfies and Guilt

10th December 2020

Instagram is 93% bums. That’s what my friend said as he scrolled through a feed of beautiful models’ backsides. To be clear, they weren't bare. This was a family app. They were covered, in bathers, resembling fishing line.

“Instagram’s algorithms only gives you more of what you click on,” I said.

“So what are you saying?” he said.

“That you should stop clicking on photos of bums.”

“But I don’t?”

I knew he was lying. After all, my Instagram was 93% bums too. In fact, two of my accounts were. The second account was an experiment. I clicked on hundreds of photos about writing, design, surfing and a horde of other wholesome subjects. Then I looked at my recommended search feed. There was a kaleidoscope of the above subjects, and one bum, which I proceeded to click on.

The next day there were four bums. I tapped on a man surfing a 80 foot wave. Then I clicked one of the bums. Next minute, 93% bums.

I told another friend about this and she said I was an animal. I agreed, but she said the accusation with such contempt. A man ( or woman) doesn’t want to regress to his ‘animal’ self, just as a recovering alcoholic doesn’t want to go back to alcoholism. But if you dangle a whiskey bottle in his face, don’t be surprised he has a nip. Then maybe 100 more nips.

Some men are unabashed about such locker room talk, and I don’t like them. But I speak for my friend who denied clicking on bums and a large number of others when I say that such proclivities are a source of deep confusion and shame.

The geeks behind Instagram created the algorithms to feed us more of what we will click on, not what the better parts of our human psyche yearn for. The algorithm is why I will search for a friend, then 10 minutes later wake from a trance and find myself reading a caption about saving elephants by Wonderlust_, accompanied by a photo of a naked glamour model hugging the mammal’s trunk.

I’m not blaming the algorithm here. We’re not victims. We still need to reconcile such tendencies. All I’m saying is, we—the animals—would be a lot more content in a world without Instagram. And bums.

. . .


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