Instagram: 3 Things to Remember Before Looking at The Comments Section
Because my content tends to be generic (“I did a thing”, “here is a computer”, “check out this dog”) – it makes for good content for amalgamation accounts that have specific themes (ex: “girls on computers”, “computers”, “dogs”). When I know I’ve been reposted I like to save that post so I can see which posts are reposted most frequently and respond to any questions. This means that people who don’t normally follow me see my pictures and captions without any context; I was going through my saved posts today and came across this
- “Babe, take a picture of me with this computer so strangers on the internet give me more attention than I already get and I can pretend to be a nerd cuz that’s the cool thing to do now.” – richard_saturday
My first instinct was to be really defensive (I’m pretty sure that’s any person’s first instinct when a random person makes assumptions about you/your life). Then I took a step back and thought, “Wait, this is an illustrative moment, this is actually perfect.” If you have a presence that people comment on and you’ve run into this – these are just a few things to keep in mind.
1. Sometimes people online have very little self-awareness
Most of the people I interact with online are delightful human beings. The best part of being online is that you can choose what you want to look at based on your interests. If you’re not interested, you don’t have to look at it. The @dvlpr.u account is an account that mostly reposts photos of computers and people on computers. It reposts a lot of photos of female developers, including a lot of my photos (the above photo was not the first or last photo that they have reposted of me).
This guy obviously assumed that the photo was “fake”, but he was commenting on an account where this kind of photo is typical. That’s on him.
2. Strangers on the internet do not fact check before commenting
I laughed a little when I actually thought about his comment because none of it was true. I’m going to annotate it just for kicks:
Babe, take a picture of me¹ with this computer so strangers on the internet give me more attention than I already get² and I can pretend to be a nerd³ cuz that’s the cool thing4 to do now
- I’ve had people ask before because they honestly want to know (heck, I don’t even know how some Instagram accounts do it). I happen to use a self-timer and tripod.
- (A) It’s my computer and (B) this picture was taken as part of a promotion for DevSlopes iOs tutorials, I quite literally got paid for this picture
- I am paid to do custom software development 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, every week of the year – I’m not a nerd, I’m a developer
- People have been saying “being a nerd is suddenly cool” for years now and everyone needs to stop. Society values attractiveness, and it values intelligence, and it values passion, but oftentimes it’s in very different arenas. There are people who only respect other people if they’re smart to the same degree, if they’re attractive in a certain way, if they’re passionate about the same thing, there is no single “cool” thing.
When you’re in high school it was easy to identify true trends because high school is a small, isolated, ecosystem (hence, the ‘cool crowd’). If you’re not in high school (and aren’t an anthropologist) and you tell me that people are “faking” lifestyles because it’s “cool” I’m going to assume that you’re just bitter about something.
If his point was that “social media is absurd” then I totally agree with him, because getting paid to take photos in my pajamas on a Saturday morning is totally absurd, but it’s also kind of absurdly awesome.
3. Sometimes comments are the reason why you should continue posting
This is less about generic Instagram and more about what @jonesdoeslife has turned into as a whole. For those of you who aren’t in the tech industry, I’ll try to keep this high level:
- In terms of developers, the industry is 4-10% female
- This leads to a lot of weird phenomenon, like people saying “Oh my God, but you’re a girl” when they find out you are a developer or being labeled as the “Girl Developer.” This kind of treatment is unnecessary and ridiculous as my gender doesn’t impact my technical ability. You wouldn’t say:
- OHMG are you really a male psychologist?
- Wait, you’re a female physicist? For real?
- Sometimes people assume girls who are in technology got there through affirmative action/because the bar was lowered for them
- Sometimes people assume that ladies are weaker coders and don’t belong in technology
If the commenter in question had just said “Oh man, she just wants attention so she’s posting a picture of herself developing” I still would have thought he lacked self-awareness since he’s on a social media platform, but would have understood his mindset. But he didn’t say that.
His comment was about how ridiculous it was that a girl would pretend to be a developer and how he “saw” right through that.
I work with a lot of great people (mostly men) who value my intelligence and ability to perform, and they aren’t the people who need to see a picture of a woman programming. It’s the people who treat female programmers like mythical animals and make a big deal out of my gender being able to type on a keyboard who need to be exposed to the idea that what we’re doing isn’t special (over and over and over again).
If you’re a content creator: Before throwing some serious shade – did I use that word right? – at an offensive comment on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or wherever you write, remember that strangers don’t know anything about your life and they don’t need to. Hopefully their ignorance can fuel you to keep doing whatever you’re doing in the hopes that someday people will be less ignorant.
If you’re a commenter: Maybe, don’t. I’m a big fan of, “If you don’t like it, don’t follow it.” If other people also don’t like it, then the person/thing will never gain traction. If the person does gain traction, then the only person your comment will expose to ridicule is yourself.