Instagram: The strange world of shout-outs and ‘brothers’

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As a recent joinee to the wonderful world of Instagram, I must admit I find its odd world of food pictures and endless selfies captivating. Take the culture of ‘shout-outs’. These are accounts whose sole purpose is to collate up pictures of pretty people, so that stalkers do not have to take the effort of scouring Instagram themselves.

Every one of these pages is plastered with the motto “Send pic in DM for Shout-out!”. Some even bear the hefty legacy “Will respond in one day!”, as reassurance of prompt service.

You can gauge the status of these pages, in the multi-pronged hierarchy of Instagram, by the desperation and/or coolness that reeks off the description.

The format seems to be – When you are small, then beg for a “DM” picture, and once you get enough followers to become the monarch of your little lala-land on the Internet, then you can change up the description message to a much more cool “DM pictures will be added to the queue”.

Speaking of descriptions –  It is interesting to see many of these pages brandish the tagline- “RESPECT WOMEN”. And your punishment for breaking ‘sanskar’? Well…they will “Instant block” you of course.

Interesting threat, but…one can argue that if someone is going to post “Arrey yaar, I want to fuc this gurl” on a random picture on the internet, then perhaps that desperado has reach the last rung of the “giving a shit” a ladder.

This enquiry is mostly moot however – since such threats are clearly not stemming the tide.

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Every single picture is a sea of “So hawt” and “lovely b**bs” comments anyway. But these do not really catch the eye. If you are going to put up pictures of yourself on the internet, rule 34 dictates that there will always been a crowd of folks eager to give you a jolly roger. And at least they are direct.

What is WAY more amusing is the myriad grammatical and emotional circuses that most of these commentators ooze through in their eternal quest to tell a girl on the internet that they want to bang her like a drum…but respectfully.

The ultimate sanction to do this in Indian culture is marriage, of course, and that flavours many of the “respectful” comments. There is the gentle – “Oh! Anyone would marry you”, the direct – “Oh marry me!”….and the shamelessly hopeful – “Are you married?” (though that one can also be flagged under ‘bhabi fantasy’ as well).

At least the “marry me” guys have some sort of plan. The slightly more sad ones are the totally misguided “Ma’am” men. The confusion is understandable, one supposes. You have been ordered to “SHOW RESPECT TO WOMEN”, but then again your upbringing has not equipped you with the tools to do this for a woman out of context.

You respect your mother, like all good Indian boys, but you can’t call this girl “ma” (shantum paapum). You respect your sister, but you can’t call your hopefully future wife “sister”. And the only other way you have been been taught to show respect is the honorific title, which you last used for your school teacher or if the government officer you are writing your petition to happened to be a woman.

So “Ma’am” it is, which when coupled with unbridled carnal desire, transforms into the interesting “Ma’am, looking super today”.

I am sure Ma’am is looking super, you suck-up.

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The most head-scratching ones have to be the “Sister” types. My personal favourite was one which I saw in a Pakistani shout-out page – “Sister, you don’t need all this. Your smile is enough”.

Look, I don’t care how brotherly your heart beats, there is no man out there checking out pictures of good-looking girls because they are all sisters to him.

Although these “sister” comments do raise the inevitable return question – “Dear brother, if you feel the sting of morality so deeply that you are preaching to a random girl on the internet, kindly to be telling the rest of us brothers, how did you even come here in the first place? Surely you didn’t reach this page via the #sister tags.”

Alas, there is never any answer to this.

Ultimately, it is easy to understand why people would send their pictures for shout-outs (who doesn’t like attention), and it is easier to understand why some people build such shout-out accounts. And even the commentators can be understood, if you expand your understanding of culture (Though no expansion seems to be able to explain the very, very Indian habit of sending “Oopps” as a comment. The point of that continues to elude me wholesale).

But the one thing that shall stay an eternal mystery are these words – “Page available for sale. Only serious offers send DM”.

Who the heck is willing to pay REAL money for the privilege of controlling a free account that is only of great interest to internet lurkers?

Truly, this world has many wonders….

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