I first downloaded the Instagram app soon after getting my iPhone in May 2011 at the request of my girlfriend. I didn’t know anything about the app at the time; she just explained to me that it was a fun way of sharing photos for others to see. After a while I got used to using the app and was noticing the way people posted pictures and I really liked how you could see things through different people’s perspectives, even if they’re all at the same event together. That’s what I really love about the app. Up until about a year ago, I really began getting fed up with the app by how I noticed it had encompassed everyone’s life and everything we did revolved around it, making posting pictures a sport and a way of life instead of the fun, care free app I remember when I first joined.
The Downward Spiral:
The thing that really started to bother me about Instagram was how it started to make up every part of everyone’s life. It basically dictated what we did on a day-to-day basis. No matter where you were, what you were doing, the moment had to be documented by taking a photo and uploading it to Instagram for all those followers to see or it would be like that moment never happened. But it wasn’t about what people were posting, it was the manner in which they were posting. People started posting in such a way that it just came off pretentious and unbearable to look at. Especially because it was coming from people I know that reside in the same city I live in and have grown up with. This really opened up my eyes to the way people wanted to be perceived online as opposed to how they really are in real life.
There was definitely a change in the way people started using Instagram, and as trends started to change, so did the reasons people began using the app. Over time, you could see more and more professional photographers and people with a successful online presence start to move their focus to the app as a way to connect with their fans/readers and grow to gain more followers on a more personal level. As this style started sweeping the nation, you could see that change in how the app started being used and how it impacted others that were using it as well.
First, we all started out by just using the simple editing filters that came with Instagram. But if you were someone that was really good at taking photos (or wanted others to think you were), you started noticing people using #VSCOcam or #Afterlight. This was a signal; to me anyway, that these people were really good at taking pictures on their phone and were really creative (whatever). And as the way people began using the app changed, so did the content of what people started posting.
This brings me back the people I know that started using the app in a really fake and pretentious way. These same kids I knew began noticing how these others big Instagram users with a lot of followers were getting popular, so they basically began imitating this same style of photos and trying to get the same results through their profile to become “Instafamous.” It’s understandable to be inspired by others, but when it just comes off as copying, that’s where I feel the line is crossed. I have to say; I was guilty of doing this same thing for a while. But when I see these people I know and have seen how they speak and act in real life situations, then look on my phone to see how they try to emulate themselves online for their followers to read, this is what really made me despise Instagram for what it is now.
It’s all about content now and if people have “beautiful” or “amazing” feeds. Since when did that even matter? What happened to just living your life the way you wanted and expressing it in your own sort of way instead of having it be dictated by others to deem if your feed is worthy enough of following because your pictures have “beautiful tones.” Those people can get over themselves. They act like Instagram is such a holy thing. The same goes to those who use Instagram to post a picture of a pitcher of tea sitting next to a pine comb accompanied by a caption that’s as long as a novel, trying to use the most cute and obscure adjectives that you most likely had to look up in a thesaurus before using. Everyone in town does this kind of thing and it’s funny to see that all these people have become friends now, so they’re basically a copy of a copy of a copy. Shout out to Trent Reznor for that one.
The same goes to those who use Instagram for over sharing. What happened to privacy? It doesn’t seem like people know what that term means any more. Now, people use Instagram as a way to share their every dark secret or random thought that comes through their head along with everything they’re doing down to the smallest detail. Trent Reznor also said it best with his recent interview with Spin magazine. Trent stated: “Over sharing feels vulgar to me now. I know we’ve been fooled into thinking it’s okay to show dick pics and that the Kardashians’ behavior is normal, but it’s not.” This same logic can be applied to those on Instagram.
Kingdom Builders-Christians and Instagram:
This is something that is hard for me to write because I am myself a Christian, so I don’t want to come off too harsh. But what I’ve seen on Instagram that’s the most aggravating are the “Instafamous” Christian users. They seriously have to be the most pretentious of them all. They all call themselves “Kingdom Builders.” Which, I think, is just really silly to begin with. It just sounds like they all belong to some science fiction club. I understand what the term means, but I don’t think it’s really necessary.
All Christians who use Instagram use it the same way for every picture they post. It’s either a picture of a person they know that is “awesome and doing big things for the kingdom.” Or, it’s a picture of a sky, mountain, or body of water with some deep bible verse. It’s the same thing every time. But what I don’t get is why they have to call themselves “Kingdom Builders.” I know a few of these “Kingdom Builders” in real life and they have to be the most narcissistic, arrogant people I have met in my life.
If they’re doing anything, it’s bringing the Kingdom down and giving it a bad name. To be a “Kingdom Builder,” I thought that had to be someone who went out and witnessed to those that didn’t believe or to not being judgmental to those that sin. Instead, I see these “Kingdom Builders” hanging out together in their special little clique of other “Kingdom Builder” friends, doing nothing to further grow the kingdom of God with the nonbelievers because they think they’re too good for that. They probably think posting somewhat decent looking photos with some bible verse is all they need to do and they will be good. Technically, yes, that is sharing with others their faith. But when they do nothing else, especially in real life, I would say it wasn’t in God’s vision to see his word carried out on a cell phone to the same 200 people living in the same city, doing nothing to fulfill his word. But keep trying! I’m sure you’ll get there some day.
This is everything that led me to taking my own month long absence from the app. I found myself basically obsessed. I had to check it on an hourly basis, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or else I felt out of the loop. Finally, I just had take a stand and a step back for my own sanity. I didn’t feel I had any room to think for myself and I was just letting social media dictate everything I thought. That’s why I stand by Z taking his break from all social media. It’s a good way to clear your mind, get on track with your own life, and get a perspective on what you’re actually doing. At least that’s what I did.
I hope for the future that people begin taking a stand for themselves and think about what it is that they use Instagram for and justify those reasons. I don’t want to see it continue as a way for those to just copy what others are doing or feel they need to partake in it because it’s what everyone is doing. That’s why I congratulate and celebrate bands like Savages for taking a stand against Instagram users and banning everyone from taking pictures on their phones to post on Instagram. Life wasn’t meant to be experienced through a tiny screen, dictated by how many likes it got. It was meant to be experienced first hand in real time with others you care about, not to share online to make people you think you live a certain lifestyle. That will grow old and eventually catch up with you. Then what will you have? Maybe all of those followers you have, but whom in real life? That’s the question. Also, don’t even get me started on “Instameets,” “Exploring,” or “Adventures.” Those words are ruined now because of Instagram.