“Instagram’s Purpose and Instagram’s Good” was originally published as “Why I Would Swear off Instagram” on March 19, 2014. While life has moved fast since that day, this content still remains true. May we learn to slow down and create space. May we create a place to ponder and process, off of the social places. And may we learn how to use a staple of our culture as a way of growth, not of harm.
Instagram did something rather incredible upon its creation. Really, it did several incredible things. It made sharing creative and amazing pictures with anyone even easier than before. And it brought exposure to artists, artisans, dog lovers, food lovers, writers, bloggers, models – more than they were experiencing before, thanks to Instagram’s user highlights on its own account and the easy ability to follow new people. Lastly it brought us into a deeper understanding of what happens in our friends’ days and minds. I am inquisitive as to how a selfie with deep words underneath really makes me get that person just a little more – because it does.
Instagram made photographers out of all of us with its photo filters and collages. It gave us a new perspective into the world and the news around us. We could see the Olympics from an athlete’s perspective and a riot from an ordinary citizen’s eyes.
We will never see anything the same.
And yet I have strongly mixed feelings about it, that fall more towards the negative on a normal day.
I heard about a study where two groups of people saw something wondrous like the grand canyon. One group took pictures, and the other didn’t. The group that didn’t take any pictures remembered the details a lot better than the people who were too busy snapping photo mementos. Well, take from that what you will.
I don’t especially like Instagram on certain days, because I am frankly a selfish human being. That’s at the heart of it, I’m sure. I don’t like how my life on Instagram dulls in comparison to my friends’ accounts. People are always saying people put their best face forward on social media, but when I look at my pictures, I’m thinking then my life must be the pits. And let’s not mention how often I see other people showcased on my friends’ daily pictures, but then I don’t get a shout out from anyone at all. (Not true, but it’s easy to see it that way, isn’t it?)
So if I were an ogre or just too self-righteous for my own good, I would call for the end of Instagram! Because it makes some people, like me, feel little, and others too self important for their own good. Right?…right?…
But I’m not an ogre, and hopefully never will be, so instead I’ll make this point to cyberspace and hope it inspires someone in the best way.
1. Instagram is not a full showcase of someone’s life.
That’s a reminder to people like me, who don’t ever post but feel little when others’ lives seem so spectacular, and to the people that post five times a day. There are beautiful moments that are never captured on an iPhone but happen nonetheless. I had a rockin’ time with friends this past week, but you’d never know it. Mainly because I forget to post about it, but never mind that.
2. Instagram’s purpose should be to inspire. Not condemn.
I love it when someone I follow posts a picture and follows up with words about what life lessons they’re learning. And I love beautiful pictures of sights I may never see but am glad they’re there. I love knowing that others are figuring their lives out. Instagram should be to inspire us to action, to beauty. Because we’re humans, it doesn’t often happen that way, but we can push for it to be better.
3. You do not need to be tagged on an Instagram picture to know you are loved.
This truth speaks to me on a real personal level. I, just like everyone else, need to know I am wanted. But I can’t look to social media for that acceptance, because it won’t grant it to me. I have a friend that likes me 10,000 times on every day of my life – and He tags me all the time. …I know, I know, way corny.
4. You should not plan a moment with friends just to take a picture of it.
And show cyberspace how popular you are and how together your life is. Let the moments carry you along for the pure enjoyment of them.
5. People really do put their best foot forward.
I said “face” the first time, because that makes more sense when you take pictures of…your face. But I remember this truth as I take twenty minutes to get the most attractive angle of my face – it isn’t how people really see me. I am not all together; I am a mess.
6. Don’t let the connections on Instagram stay on Instagram.
And that’s all she wrote.