This Strange, Subversive Instagram Exposes the Sickness of Social Media
Time2Reflect uses unorthodox catalog and play-doh composites to critique our obsession with social media.
Earlier this year, a strange account emerged on Instagram, one that managed to stand-out via the Explore page amongst a horde of ceaselessly-competing pages and images. @T2R.calm, also known as Time2Reflect , displays mildly pixelated image composites of stock image-like figures inserted into play-doh houses, faux lifestyle advertisements for "infantile and aspirational millennial lifestyles," and #foodporn pictures of "healthy" play-doh meals.
Reading partially as a critique of contemporary lifestyles, but also as a re-invention of traditional social media branding, T2R feels intentionally enigmatic. Both the Instagram account and its accompanying Tumblr are hardly didactic; "a safe space to vent, hope, wonder + wish" is the most information provided.
Captions for the images often take the form of satirical takes on pre-existing corny puns: "Make this collection an instant plastic," while other moments are verbatim earnestness presented subversively: "Be the change you wish to see in the world" accompanies a text message excerpt about a date with a drunk Irish play-doh man. T2R seems to possess little comparable logic to that of the outside world, but there is somehow a guiding thread of "T2R coherence" among these assorted posts.
Speaking to the sole, anonymous entity behind the page feels like I'm conversing with a fusion between a political ambassador and a customer service representative, which turns out be exactly what is intended once I ask exactly what the page is about: "T2R is my combination home-decor live-webcam-girl customer-support consulting brand," the nameless personality succinctly explains.
As we converse further, T2R assumes a pseudo-plural identity, which they denote as a "royal we": "Here are T2R, we like to keep things ambiguous. We seek to interrupt the seamless modernist lifestyle by tethering the line of falsehood and reality as reflected online by digital advertising, personal branding, corporate media, and most recently 'fake news.'"
Although they keep their identity tightly under wraps, the T2R representative gives me some probing background information. "My work as a designer in the mass consumer-product field has been a catalyst for my study of lifestyle marketing as showcased on social platforms. I am not sure what I hope to accomplish with these posts, but I would like to look beyond the follower count and blue checkmark. Social media in general is a wonderful distraction that provides individuals with a [false] sense of freedom."
My conversation with T2R ends with a hopeful but corporate-sounding statement by them: "Ultimately, we are interested in exploring how the American interior and sense of 'home' will shift in light of our political climate. We will keep you updated on our progress."