How many of you have spent more time than you should picking out, filtering, and captioning a picture on Instagram? You better believe I have! It is a meticulous process where you want to make sure you have the absolute best Instagram post. If your caption is too over the top or not enough, you are not going to maximize the number of likes you have.
I have been a member of the Instagram community since April of 2012. It blows my mind to think that I have been a part of Instagram for over 4 years! However, there have been a multitude of changes that Instagram has rolled out over the past few years. Author Andy Crouch published an essay outlining the guilt and shame culture in America. The distinction that was created was that in a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels. In a shame culture, you know you are good or bad by what your community says to you, whether it honors or excludes you. The essay argues that the omnipresence of social media creates a shame culture. I found this interesting because as human beings, we want to be loved and desired and praised in our communities. This is an unequivocal fact that no matter what level in the hierarchy you are, middle school, high school, or even in the working world, we want to feel included.
Now, this is not completely bad. There are good things that come from a shame culture. For example, the shame culture could rebrand society from the individualistic tendencies and help nurture a more inclusive social culture. However, this system is based on being in or out, and there are no permanent standards. The standards are constantly shifting based on what society wants to include as good or bad. One day you could be at the top of the mountain and at the next you are out. A Times article wrote on the “Secret Language of Girls on Instagram” and found a few way girls are leveraging Instagram past sharing photos. However, I would argue this phenomenon is not only prevalent in women, but also men. Instagram is used as a public barometer of popularity, elaborate birthday collages, and know what friends think about you. Kids in grade schools are now finding creative ways to bully others from using these social media outlets. For example, kids will “tag” someone on an a hurtful post/caption, write mean hashtags under a photo, or create a fake account in a students name. I do not want to paint a grim picture of Instagram, there are many good things that come from using Instagram. I want to attempt to provide a more holistic view of the impact social media has on people lives.
Instagram has helped people struggling with different illnesses and continues to be a tool for men, women, and children to rally and share their story. Using Instagram can help children who are struggling fighting cancer gain love and support. Instagram is also a fantastic way to share your story where other people could be going through the same thing. Below is a picture of Daisy, who wanted to share her journey of recovering form her eating disorder, hoping to inspire and support people who are going through a similar situation.
Not only does Instagram have great benefits between people, but also between businesses and their customers. Businesses who utilize Instagram efficiently see an increase in their customer base and engagement. A study was done where analysts attempted to discover what marketers are focusing on and what they’re not, and only 19% of marketers said they will give Instagram a high priority in 2014, while 23% said they will not consider the platform at all. However, numbers do not lie and when looking at the infographic below, you can see the benefits that are created from properly using Instagram for your business.
Like anything in life there are both pros and cons for everything. I wanted to attempt to create a holistic view of Instagram and the impact it has on our lives. I think the benefits of Instagram heavily outweigh the cons, but we should find ways to minimize the bad. I know Instagram has attempted to work on erasing offensive comments/posts/accounts, but it is going to be a process. I am curious to see how Instagram will change in the next four to six years, what do you think it will be like? If you do not believe me it will change, look at this video of how the original Instagram operated!