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The human bone trade is booming on Instagram, because of course it is

This is fine. This is totally fine.

instagram bone trade with skeleton pondering both life and death
Image: Unsplash

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram is kind of a cesspool of awfulness right now. Even more concerning is the fact that the platform is making very little headway when it comes to actually fixing its litany of issues, which range from common cyberbullying all the way up to full-blown pedophilia.

So you might be saying to yourself, “Well, at least it can’t get any worse.” And I guess you’d be right. I guess.

The human bone trade is as close as the phone in your pocket or the laptop on your desk. Instagram, which more readily brings to mind carefully framed selfies and a flood of tattoo art, might not initially seem to be a likely hub for the human bone trade, but that’s changed in recent years.

Yep, Instagram has not only entered the human bone trade, but is crushing it at the human bone trade. Why? Because they can, mostly. While sites like Etsy and eBay had the decency to ban the sale of human bones on their platforms in 2012 and 2017, respectively, the practice is still largely legal in the United States to this day.

Perhaps, as a result, human bone collecting has even become something of a status symbol in recent years (thanks a lot, Predator), with buyers paying upwards of five figures for sought-after pieces like “#6043 India male skull.”

So, what’s the issue here?

What’s so bad about the human bone trade, aside from the obvious? I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED.

In a 2017 paper titled “The Insta‑Dead: The Rhetoric of the Human Remains Trade on Instagram”, archaeologists Damien Huffer and Shawn Graham discussed the dehumanizing process that results when you, you know, trade your 1967 Gibson guitar for a pinky, or whatever it is that these weirdos do.

“In the same way those early collecting practices did damage and violence to communities from which the dead were collected,” Huffer and Graham write, “the emergence of social media platforms that facilitate collector communities seems to be replaying that history.”

So basically, no one knows where (or rather, who) these bones are coming from. No one knows how they were obtained, and no one really cares to find out. It’s like the 1800s all over again, when people were just snatching bodies out of graves and selling them to the nearest medical school, only the doctors have been replaced with eccentric, old-money sociopaths. The power of social media, everyone.

You know your company has gone off the plot when its crossing lines that even eBay won’t. I once paid for a set of golf clubs on eBay with a vial of my own tears.

So, where do you stand on this? Should Instagram allow sales of literal human bones? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Writer. Editor. Barelyknewer. Hate mail can be directed to j j o n e s @ k a r s f o r k i d s d o t e a r t h l i n k

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