By: Rebecka

Instagram in Popular Culture

Instagram is a relatively new photo-sharing smart phone app that launched in 2010.  The app allows users to share pictures and short videos with their “followers.”  Users are able to apply different “filters” that give the photos different coloring and effects.  You are also able to link the photos to other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.  There is an option to have a private account, so that only the people you allow to follow you can see your photos.  You can put a caption of the photo and “tag” people who are in the photo.  You can include hashtags in your caption, which allows other to find your photo/video when they are looking at the subject of your hashtag.  Multiple hashtag trends have developed, such as #ootd (outfit of the day), #tbt (throwback Thursday), #mcm (man crush Monday), and #wcw (woman crush Wednesday).

An example of intense hashtag use

Instagram filters

Instagram has become one of the most popular social media sites in our culture.  Almost anyone that has a smart phone and is up-to-date with the hottest apps has Instagram.  Instead of posting a regular photo to Twitter or Facebook, people choose to post it to Instagram with filters (or perhaps with #nofilter) and share it with the other social media sites.

Most people use it to share photos with their followers; usually friends and family.  Though like most popular things, people have started to use it as a way to gain popularity.  People fill a photo with 100 hashtags hoping that others will be looking through the hashtag’s photos and they will come upon their photo and give it likes/comments and maybe follow them.  There are users who are “Instagram famous” with hundreds of thousands of followers.  Of course, there are also celebrities with Instagrams that have millions of followers.

Instagram has caused a widespread interest in photography.  When Instagram users see something aesthetically pleasing (Sunsets, clouds in the sky, crowds of people, trees, etc.), they immediately think to take a picture so they can post it.  Those who thrive on different social media, see an Instagram opportunity in almost every situation.  Those who seem to think quite highly of themselves enjoy posting many “selfies” of themselves, often times more than once a day.

Some say Instagram is a good application, when used right, allowing us to share photos and memories.  Others say it’s been swallowed by the mainstream and is misused by those looking only for the most likes and followers.

The trends on Instagram are what I find most interesting about this phenomenon.  Like I mentioned before, hashtag trends have provided people with more reasons to post things.  On Mondays and Wednesdays Instagram is full of pictures of men and women, usually celebrities,  that users find attractive and feel the need to share with their followers using the hashtags #mcm and #wcw.  Some Instagram users post pictures of their outfits every day, using the hashtag #ootd.  Personally, I do not care to participate in the use of hashtags.  Though I do think that #tbt (throwback Thursday) is one of the better hashtag trends.  This gives people the chance to post pictures from their past; maybe from when they were kids or maybe more recent pictures that hold good memories.  I think this is a good way to reminisce about past memories.  Other than hashtags, the photos you see on Instagram tend to follow trends.  For instance, in the fall you often see pictures of the changing fall leaves, pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, hot chocolate, poetry books, and outfits incorporating sweaters and scarves (#sweaterweather).  These trends represent the stereotypical Instagram user: young girls trying to be “artistic” with their posts.

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