The Realities of Instagram

On the 6th of October 2010, Instagram was created to solve three simple problems:

  1. Mobile photos always come out looking mediocre. Our awesome looking filters transform your photos into professional-looking snapshots.
  2. Sharing on multiple platforms is a pain – we help you take a picture once, then share it (instantly) on multiple services.
  3. Most uploading experiences are clumsy and take forever – we’ve optimized the experience to be fast and efficient.

Like most social media platforms Instagram has slowly, but surely taken over our lives. To some extent, we are all guilty of browsing, scrolling and generally procrastinating our way through social media timelines. It has become something of a habit…a routine, from the moment we wake up, until we go to sleep we are keen to stay updated with Instagram.

The original essence of Instagram was to capture the moment, there and then, and simply add a filter to enhance the image, giving it that ‘professional’ appearance. But more recently, society as a whole has become fixated on how to accumulate the most likes and followers, what image is most likely to receive attention, and what will get positive feedback.

Of course, we all like to portray the best representation of ourselves through social media. But Instagram, by far, is misleading and distorting the reality of who we are from disguising emotions of sadness, to airbrushing imperfections.

By large, Instagram has not ‘solved’ three simple problems, but has generated many more, potentially being held responsible for damaging our self-esteem, originality and self-expression.

Self-esteem – Whether you are female or male, the majority of us can relate to how Instagram elites (models, personal trainers, and fitness enthusiasts), can give us that “Instagram envy!” feeling. But we often forget how those particular images have been constructed and photo edited to appear ‘flawless’. On the other hand, Instagram can make its users feel attractive, liked and popular through the number of ‘likes’ received on a picture. Interestingly, research by the University of Buffalo suggests that women who base their self-worth on their appearances are more likely to post pictures of themselves on social media to seek validation. Obviously Instagram, is nothing but a vicious cycle of aspiring to be like someone else, or to being accepted by others. One way, or another our self-esteem is damaged.

 Originality – Are we losing sight of our originality? on a daily basis I scroll down my feed to be welcomed by countless ‘throwbacks’, images of peoples ‘brunch’ (now cold, due to the photoshoot) and far too many ‘#OTTD’ (outfit of the day). Déjà Vu is a usual reoccurrence when browsing on Instagram, and it’s becoming a bit of a bore. As Instagram users, are we feeling uninspired? bored? or simply lacking in ideas?

Self-expression – From artistic skills, cultural beliefs, emotions and music, Instagram has the potential for its users to express themselves through visual and moving image. However, there are several drawbacks to transferring these concepts of self-expression into images. The power of an image is a common understanding throughout society, yet Instagram can be seen as restricting users from embracing how they feel and what they believe. But how? Instagram like many social media sites, is home to an abundance of online trolls, who thrive from criticising, judging and harassing other users. Consequently, Instagram users have become more conscious in posting their particular ideas, talents and beliefs.

The realities of Instagram are evidently making us more conscious of what we decide to post, in the fear of: 1.) Being rejected 2.) Viewed as boring and 3). Criticised or judged by other users.