You know what they say: A picture is worth a thousand angry Internet posts.
Well, maybe that's what they've been saying at Madonna's house this week. The iconic entertainer posted a picture on Instagram of her 13-year-old son, Rocco Ritchie, holding a bottle of gin, alongside two of his buddies holding bottles of vodka. Madonna captioned the photo, “The party has just begun.”
It's hard to fathom what she was thinking. Letting 13-year-old boys drink alcohol is an idiotic idea, but even if she wasn't letting them actually drink, why would she think people wouldn't be outraged by the photo? And not in that Madonna-kisses-Britney-Spears outrage that results in tons of publicity that boosts her career.
The “what was she thinking?” question is being asked of an increasing number of celebrities — and people in general — when it comes to their judgment regarding Instagram, the photo-sharing site that's skyrocketed in popularity the past couple of years. My 12-year-old daughter just rolls her eyes when I ask if she saw something I sent to her Facebook page. “Nobody goes on Facebook anymore, Dad,” she told me last week. “Everyone is on Instagram now.”
Good. Now, I can get an even better “picture” of what she's up to.
Apparently, we're no longer using the Internet to tell the world about ourselves. Now, we're showing everyone our lives. In the rush to get those pictures up, people are increasingly abandoning rational thought.
Instagram didn't do Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade any favors recently when he revealed that he fathered a son with someone else while on a “break” last year from his fiancee, actress Gabrielle Union.
If one does the math, it would seem that Wade made his new 2-month old bundle of joy about February 2013. Some media outlets scoured Union's Instagram photos from the same time period, which included a shot of her and Wade snuggling up on Valentine's Day. Photos of her and Wade continued until April, when she began posting things such as, “A person's actions will tell you everything you need to know,” and “Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.”
How much information about someone's life is too much? Especially from celebrities, some of whom teeter on doing real harm to their careers by overexposure.
The Huffington Post surveyed 20,000 readers in August, asking them to name the five most annoying celebrities on Instagram. Fifth was Miley Cyrus, “because she's gratuitous,” the story said. Fourth was Justin Bieber, “because he's underdressed” (as in, he liked posting shirtless pictures of himself). Third was Amanda Bynes, “because she's boring.” Second was Kim Kardashian, “because she's oversaturated.” The most annoying person on Instagram was Rihanna, “because she's overexposed.”
One could certainly argue that, outside of Bynes — whose posts indicated possible mental illness, which resulted in her being hospitalized shortly after the survey — none of the celebrities on the list is hurting career-wise. However, all have become punch lines in one form or another. It's also clear that the general public thinks they reveal more about themselves through Instagram than anyone wants to see. Imagine how tired of them we will be after another year of this overexposure.
Beyonce got in trouble last week with Christian groups because of an Instagram photo showing her posing provocatively in front of Andy Warhol's painting of “The Last Supper.” The American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss., is making waves over the post. The group's president, Tim Wildmon, told the Christian Post that the picture was “an act of disrespect towards Jesus Christ ... (that) had to be done intentionally.”
That's the thing about Instagram: They're all intentional posts. No one can blame anyone else. At some point, some celebrity's ego-inflated misjudgment is going to seriously hurt his or her career. It could happen to any of us.