High-Tech Snobbery

Instagram App Deepens Class Warfare Between Apple and Android Smartphones

Instagram was available only to iPhone owners, but now it’s on Android—and there goes the neighborhood, say snobby Apple users. Dan Lyons weighs in.

Adrian Dennis, AFP / Getty Images

Instagram, an insanely popular photo app on the iPhone, just became available on Google’s Android platform. That’s great news for Android fans, but some Apple users are not happy about this at all and have taken to the Interwebs to voice their disgust, posting tweets along the lines of, “Ew, gross, I don’t want to mingle with those nasty low-class Android people, yuck.”

Actually, that is pretty much literally what people have been saying—at least the “ew” and “yuck” parts, according to a roundup of angry tweets that BuzzFeed assembled.

My feeling is this: I already hated Instagram and the posers who use it, and now I just hate them even more.

For the uninitiated, Instagram is a simple app that lets you take photographs and apply filters that make the pictures look like old-fashioned-y Kodak or Polaroid snapshots. Neat-o, right?

The app came out in late 2010, and suddenly every talentless hipster in the world was going around taking crap snapshots of food trucks and steam coming out of sewer grates and convincing themselves that this was “art” just because they could screw around with some color filters.

Next these idiots started cluttering up Facebook, Tumblr, and Google+ not only with their own junk, but with the “masterpieces” of other digital aesthetes that they’d discovered and just had to share with the world.

So thanks, Instagram, for creating a piece of software that lets 30 million pretentious douche-tards uglify every site on the Web with their horrific eye manure. It was bad enough when these posers just sat around in cafés with MacBooks pretending to write novels. At least then the rest of us never had to see what they wrote. As long as you had the good sense never to set foot inside a coffee shop on poetry-slam night, you could pretty much guarantee that you’d never have their “work” inflicted upon you.

Now these idiots have been turned into little amateur Robert Mapplethorpes. The world is their canvas, and there’s no escaping them. Worse, they also believe they’re art critics, and/or cultural critics, which is why they’re now groaning about the horrible low-quality art pollution that will be infecting their precious art club once the Android morons arrive.

So, really, Instagram. Thanks for that.

When I first saw that string of complaints by Apple-loving Instagram users on BuzzFeed, I thought it might be a prank or a parody. I thought it was someone making fun of the kind of people who use Instagram. But apparently not. The story has been picked up all over the place, like by CNET and CNN, with journalists wringing their hands over the “class warfare” between Apple and Android.

In a nutshell, the conflict is rooted in a belief that Apple customers have higher income and better taste, and that Android users are hoi polloi who are so vulgar or stupid that they can’t see why Apple products are better. Or maybe they see the difference, but they’re too cheap to spring for an Apple phone and just want a cheap Android knockoff.

There really are demographic differences. A study by Hunch.com revealed that Android users are in general less educated and make less money than iOS users, for example. Android is more popular in the South and Southwest, and iOS is more popular in the Northeast and Midwest, according to a survey by Jumptap, a mobile-advertising company. IPhone owners have nearly twice as many sexual partners by age 30 as Android users do, according to OKCupid. (Android users, male and female, had 6 lovers by that age, while Apple men had 10, and Apple women had 12.)

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As someone who uses both Apple and Android devices and likes both for different reasons, I think this whole argument about Apple versus Android is overblown, not to mention stupid, boring, and juvenile. The iPhone 4S is a marvelous device and has the best camera I’ve ever used on a phone. I’ve recommended the iPhone to countless people, including most of my relatives. But some Android phones are equally amazing. The Samsung Galaxy S II, for example. And the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, which is my daily driver these days.

Why do people argue about which is better? Our mobile phones have taken on a kind of totemic power. These devices are an intimate part of our lives. We carry them everywhere, and they’re practically attached to us. Which phone you choose now has become an expression of your personality, like the clothes you wear and the car you drive.

The most brilliant thing Apple’s marketing team has done is convince people that buying Apple products is a way to show the world that you have exquisite taste and that you’re better, smarter, and cooler than other people. Spend a few hundred bucks in an Apple store, and suddenly you’re an expert on art, design, architecture, fashion, and home furnishings. Suddenly you can hold forth about leading and kerning and other esoteric aspects of typesetting. Suddenly you know all about bezels and chamfers. The tiniest details mean so much to you! You can talk for hours about industrial design.

Of course only idiots believe that taste is something that can be bought in an Apple store or that becoming a talented photographer involves nothing more than downloading a free app. And now, thanks to Apple and Instagram, there are millions of those idiots walking the earth, inflicting their terrible pictures and uninformed opinions on the rest of us. So thanks, Apple. Thanks, Instagram. Thanks, smug dick-wads who post rude tweets about Android users. Your opinions, like your embarrassingly awful artwork, provide hilarious entertainment. Keep up the great work!