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Instagram backlash and the social media void

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August 2018 saw the launch by New York-based Village Marketing of the first Instagram-centric apartment. The 2,400-square-foot SoHo space, which is decked out with plush sofas in millennial pink, gold and cream leather stools and cushion-strewn four-poster beds, was conceived as a place for influencers to stage photoshoots. However, the launch was greeted with parody and bemusement on social platforms.
Increasingly food, hospitality, hotels and bars are having Instagrammability written into the design brief for creators. Branded “experiences” have reached fever pitch, from the Museum of Ice Cream’s never-ending tour of duty to Refinery29’s touring 29Rooms exhibit of interactive artworks, says JWT Intelligence in the report, The Future 100 (2019).
Commentators in media and social networks are starting to push back. The New York Times poked fun at the recent string of cynical, shallow Instagram “experiences” in a widely shared piece “The Existential Void of the Pop-Up Experience.”
“The central disappointment of these spaces is not that they are so narcissistic, but rather that they seem to have such a low view of the people who visit them. Observing a work of art or climbing a mountain actually invites us to create meaning in our lives. But in these spaces, the idea of “interacting” with the world is made so slickly transactional that our role is hugely diminished. Stalking through the colorful hallways of New York’s “experiences,” I felt like a shell of a person. It was as if I was witnessing the total erosion of meaning itself. And when I posted a selfie from the Rosé Mansion saying as much, all of my friends liked it,” reads the article.
Bon Appétit even poked fun at the trend for intense food-picture sharing with a guide to mindful selfie-free eating. As of November 2018, the hashtag #basic on Instagram had been used on over 4.5 million images to signal something over-saturated or ordinary.
Brands are also pushing back. Early in 2018, the New York Times blew the whistle, publishing “The Follower Factor,” an influential investigative report exposing the grey market of paid-for followings. Its introduction to the practice of paid-for influence was punchy: “Everyone wants to be popular online. Some even pay for it.”

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