It seems Instagram is after me again. This time they sent me a notice saying that some of my content goes against their policies for reasonable speech, I guess. They’ve already closed one of my accounts and I promptly responded by adding a number to my previous account name to get back on the ‘Gram. Of course I had to go through all the nonsense of trying to remember who I was following and do a search-and-follow check. I lost a few ‘friends’ that I wasn’t terribly interested in anyway. Gone was “Tips 4 Home.” It wasn’t exactly a favorite. I’m not entirely sure how that account landed in my feed or how I ended up following them. They had uber-charming photos of things like professionally decorated farm house back porches, or metal plows against a sunset painted with flowers. You get the idea. Additionally there were the homey, mid-western-grandparent captions, such as “It’s better to rust out than wear out.” I wanted to send them a note saying there are anti-arthritis drugs now, so wearing out doesn’t have to be an option. Not sure if they were terribly interested in what others had to say. I suspect sometimes that those kinds of posts are either Russian bots or some anonymous corporation looking for my data through my phone. Either way, I culled out some accounts and added others.
Typically what I added were political satire, social justice commentary and a few politicians that benefit greatly from the posts I forward to them or comments that I have about their performance. I also follow a few accounts related to the #MeToo movement, because misogyny is everywhere you don’t want it to be. My comments typically had to do with being less tolerant of previous social conventions. I post about politicians and their verbal gaffes, question the wisdom of allowing gigantic corporations the latitude they seem to enjoy in the current political climate and, just as important, pictures of my cats. It’s hard to say what the Instagram censors found offensive about any of that. In talking with friends, I shared my feeling that Instagram, like so many institutions, has a long history of expecting women not to cite white males as part of the problem.
Therein lies my difficulty in life. I am not now, nor have I ever been terribly deferential to men. I have spent parts of my young working life picking up odd jobs for a summer, or a semester, in the “pink collar” sector. That means I sat at a desk, answered phones, shuffled papers, and often typed words or calculated numbers on behalf of a male that made significantly more money than I did. That was irritating enough, but the fact that they seemed to need so much more help for simple functions was really off-putting. When I say simple functions, I mean things like getting coffee, finding small items on a desk, explaining reports I had put together that they didn’t understand, yet got credit for, and making healthcare appointments. Did I mention they made A LOT MORE money than I did. Most of them were shut away in offices by themselves. Presumably a time out from the real work being done outside their doors by the bevvy of women engaged in the same activities that I was.
Women who do this kind of work have careers that are replete with stories about training men in offices, hospitals, board rooms, factories, etc. on how to do their jobs. These women continued getting the same salary while the men got promoted. Early on I came to a decision that I just couldn’t be deferential to people who knew less than I did and capitalized on my better than average abilities so they could get ahead without acknowledging me. Trouble is, I often said so. This is perceived as bothersome in the overall social schema and I have been “talked to” more than once about my prevalent attitude. I knew what was really required: I should shut up, do as much as possible for very little pay and pretend not to notice how things were. You’ve probably guessed that those kinds of jobs didn’t work out terribly well for me.
Now here we are in the 21st Century and the specter of not noticing how things are shows up on Instagram. I have openly posted phrases specifically related to not being deferential to old, white men. Based on my experience, their position and power was acquired based on the efforts of women who, like myself, were also not well paid and expected not to notice how things were. I say let’s just cut to the chase and skip the carve-outs given to mostly old, mostly white, mostly men, just because they showed up with a certain set of genitalia. I suspect there is a certain group of people at Instagram who would like me not to notice that they too operate under the implied contract we have for men. I’d like them to shut up, do their work and not notice what I’ve been saying.