Instagram Entitlement is Superiority Thinking: Why We Need Anti-Superiority Relationship Work

Originally published on Instagram on November 9th

It’s a common occurrence on Instagram for consumers of content to believe they’re entitled to what content creators post (i.e. taking content and posting without attribution to gain visibility), or believe they’re entitled to tell a creator what they should post (i.e. telling someone they should stick to a particular topic rather than post about politics). Entitlement is a claim that the consumer’s’ desires and feelings are superior to the poster’s. This is supremacy culture in action.

The antidote to entitlement is honoring our own and the other’s sovereignty. Every creator on IG has sovereign agency to do whatever they desire with their own account. No one gets to tell anyone else what to do. Just as every consumer has sovereign agency to pick and choose what accounts to follow. If you don’t want to see politics on a creator’s gardening or art page, then you can unfollow. To message or comment that creator and try to coerce them into doing what you want is violence (defined as any attempt to coerce or control).

Superiority dehumanizes the other. This is where violence begins. It is only when we perceive the other as less than ourselves that we believe we can do whatever we want to them. Instagram entitlement tells another person to make themselves smaller and less human by keeping their truths hidden rather than being intimate with their authenticity. Consequently, entitlement cuts off any possibility of true connection.

Anti-superiority relationship work is about safety, sovereignty, authenticity, and intimacy. We do our best to make ourselves safe (by not attempting to relate to people committed to their violence*) and safer to be with (by reckoning with our shadow, trauma, and the harm we cause). Safety isn’t about purity, it’s about commitment. It’s being honest about our capacity for superiority thinking and the resulting violence and committing to the on-going work of accountability and transformation.

*This excludes state/systemic/criminal

violence where we have no choice about

relating or our safety.

We also make ourselves safe by:

Taking responsibility for our choices and honoring the sovereign agency of others to make their own choices. Being authentic about all of who we are and honoring the other’s authenticity. And connecting through intimacy — sharing what we think and, more importantly, how we feel with one another thru nonviolent communication (no blaming, shaming, judging, diminishing, etc.)

I began this post with Instagram entitlement because I want people to understand how superiority thinking is everywhere in our relating. It’s interpersonal and systemic. It’s embedded in the stories we tell ourselves about one another individually and collectively; in our media and mythologies; in our religions, spiritualities, and atheism; in our hierarchies at home, in school, in business, and in politics; and everywhere else that humans relate.

If we want to dismantle the collective supremacies — patriarchy, White supremacy, capitalism, etc. — then we have to dismantle superiority thinking in our own minds in every form. Superiority is both an interpersonal and collective problem. It’s as active in social justice collectives as it is in politics. It’s as active in our homes as it is in the White House. It’s a problem of relationship. Anti-superiority relationship work is the foundation to overcoming it.