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A Life in Social Media

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A look back at her online career and its impact on her development as a person, personality, brand, etc.

Who Would I Be Without Instagram? An investigation.
By Tavi Gevinson
Photographs by Eva O'Leary


As Jia Tolentino writes in her essay “The I in the Internet,” social-media platforms work best — that is, as they are intended to — when they are unsatisfying. For all the knowledge and inspiration that many social-media users have given me via their profiles, the apps themselves (I mean Instagram and Twitter) were designed to be hierarchical and addictive. Despite these platforms’ recent attempts to be less detrimental to their users’ mental health, to monitor and improve “conversation health,” and to retroactively apply journalistic ethics to cesspools of abuse and misinformation, their business models are based on exploiting people’s psychology for maximum engagement, much like a video game you can’t stop playing but will never win.

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