Considered how photography is being experienced, with a consequent loss of value, it also occurred to me that more than a loss, there’s been a mutation of that value into something different, a substantial change since the system has changed itself.
The main use of social media like Instagram is mostly to grow hordes of followers, therefore the real objective is not photography itself but the numbers of followers. There are a few techniques to help the process, nevertheless, the main vehicle is still the images that fill up the feeds.
When the images become a value in order to achieve a second purpose (the real one), the images themselves cease to have a photographic quality (by the way, already dismounted in the first place by the very semantic value that Instagram carries) and surrender their signic charge to the real purpose (i.e., to increase the followers). Heterogeny of ends is what describes this situation in a rather accurate way.
Besides automated tools created to increase the number of followers (bots), there are methods that people regularly use. The mechanism is really simple: I like your image if you like mine. The consequence of this approach is that images are now being used as a currency value (and I’m specifically using the word images and not photographs because it’s rare, if not impossible at this point, to see photographs that have not been manipulated one way or another – Instagram itself is a container that manipulates and changes the nature of what people publish regardless of what has been done at the source).
For reasons discussed here, and for the fact that images on social media can also assume a currency quality, it follows that they can hardly be considered photographs anymore. If, on top of that, we also take into account McLuhan and Baudrillard it’s easy to infer that not even in the best case scenario (e.g. when an honest example of photography is on a social media) we can consider what we perceive as a true photographic experience.