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Essential Journal

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Issue 44 – Social Media

‘We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.’ – Kurt Vonnegut

The more cynical amongst us might venture to suggest that, if Instagram has taught us anything, it’s that narratives of the self have a habit of derailing into the long grass of fantasy. False lives, well-lived. Little fictions, well-told. They’d say that Insta’s endless grid is filled with the empty lies we tell ourselves then run along to sell to others. Catastrophe cropped, reality sacrificed to filtered fraud. Dreams for sale, just follow the hashtag. Link in bio. And they’d be right, too. To some extent at least. But then again, Vonnegut wrote the above quote for Mother Night – itself a warning on the power and perils of propaganda – back in ‘62. So if you really think about it, the curated self is nothing new, it’s just the platform that’s evolved. Which makes Instagram more of an effect than a cause, when you really get down to it. And that’s precisely what this month’s issue aims to explore, as it happens.