Instagram: Squares of Moments or of Vanity?

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“Capture and share the world’s moments” This is the simple yet engaging corporate slogan of the leading photo and video application of the present. If you don’t know what it is yet well, our generation’s crazy for it—“Instagram” or “Insta” for short. With exploding updates on savvy gadgets today, millions of people worldwide have this app installed in their smartphones. It’s so prolific (as in 400 million active monthly users and an average of 80 million photos posted daily) that a sight of a phone without the app is like seeing a person actually eat before taking photos of their food. It’s just impossible.

But what I’m most curious about is how it’s utilized by the notorious “Instagrammers”, a.k.a. all of us who posts at least once a day.

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As I’ve seen in my research (read: stalking accounts in the “explore” section) users are making themselves famous in this (supposedly) world of “memories” in squares. Upon scrolling my Instagram home page, I see posts of selfies, parties, adorable pets, body workouts, flat-lays, and other seemingly flawless life events of the people. I also encountered those that adhere to a theme or stick to certain subject such as travel, traditional and digital art and designs, OOTDs (outfits of the day), food, music, typography, with a goal to achieve #feedgoals by consistently posting vsco-filtered photos of their chosen theme.  These humans of IG are busy posting to share impressive memories and fulfill their feed goals. The last kind I discovered are those that display numerous photos of products and tons of advertisements – business Instagram accounts. Yes, Instagram shops exist now too.

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A chosen few of these users have really perfected the objective of Instagram to “Capture and share the world’s moments” through their personal posts of photos with memories worth keeping. But how will I consider your post as a candid “memory” if it’s an image of a super organized flatlay of products with captions jam-packed with hashtags (#)? Both the photo and character limit of 2,200 for caption are potentially compromised and abused as a branding and marketing tool instead of it being maximized in support for the visual story-telling that complies with the App’s initial design. Not to mention, apart from the popping online shops and advertisements on Instagram, comes the hashtags of “cool” humans putting hashtags that states their desperation to gain followers and likes.  A sad reality behind why other people see Instagram as a “vanity sharing site with pictures”.

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Instagram’s pretty curated feed of (supposedly) squares of world’s memories and a description of thoughts and record of experiences through narrating words are now interrupted with a series of hashtags for sales and promotion, squares of products and services, and a fake candid shot or an uberly-scripted video that somehow kills the identity of it being the “private” and “personal” lifestyle space.

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Yes, the demand to be diverse in content and function due to a budding community is logical. It’s just saddening how an initial objective, which can apparently change the way how people see and shape their graphic thoughts virtually, drops its essence and strength just to cater and meet the “inevitable change” that we have for the sake of either fame or money. You choose. #Realityhits #Itwillneverbethesameagain


Words by Patch de Leon Edited by Tin Advincula

Art by Ana Luciano & Dani Llanes


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