‘Close Friends,’ for a Monthly Fee

Kaitlyn Tiffany, writing for The Atlantic:

Gabi Abrao, better known as @sighswoon on Instagram, is “developing a language with the invisible.” Her page is half memes, half photos of her—eating fresh fruit, or trying out a metal detector, or posing in a museum bathroom wearing an incredible maxi dress, or staring sleepily into the middle distance in a satin pollution mask—often accompanied by poetic text about the past, the present, and the universe.

She has close to 94,000 followers, about 400 of whom are her “Close Friends,” a privilege won by paying $3.33 a month on Patreon. Those followers get access to exclusive “rants, theories, and personal updates,” including “silly details” of Abrao’s love life, big ideas about “existence and wellness,” and poetry and prose from her personal archives. She’s one of many who have figured out that the Instagram feature—originally intended as something like an image-based inner-circle group text—can also be used to make some extra money.

That people would try to monetize this Instagram feature is not at all surprising, but it is interesting how successful some people have been in doing so.

Relatedly, Tiffany co-hosts an excellent podcast, Why’d You Push That Button?, about the ways in which people use social media and technology.