Instagram is Home to Some Odd Stuff

6 May

In a highly publicized move, Facebook recently acquired the popular photo-sharing app, Instagram, for roughly $1 billion in cash and stock. The profitless photo-sharing app that originated in San Francisco now has upwards of 30 millions users after being independently active for a mere 551 days.  For most of this time, the app was exclusive to iPhone users. All this puts the death of so-called “old media” in perspective;  in comparison with the app, the New York Times is reportedly worth $970.22 million.

On April 3rd, Instagram released an incarnation of their app for the Android users who had been waiting with bated breath, myself included. A portal to the world of elite photojournalism had been opened up to me and I intended to seize the privilege previously reserved for the swanky elitists normally referred to as iPhone users. Naturally, I gravitated towards the application my more affluent friends had been raving about. As I watched the download bar progress, I could not help but smugly smile while envisioning all the followers I would get for posting a photo of my neighbor’s dog.

After it was installed, I wallowed in the glory of finding new angles from which to appreciate the fruit-basket that lay on my dinner table. That was a joke, although I did find it pretty cool. Like its iPhone cousin, the Android app had a variety of filters with which to “enhance”  one’s pictures. I was left disappointed that it did not include the Tilt Shift/Blur function that the iOS-based app had. Anyway, I  have played around with it for more than a month and have noticed how odd its community is. Three things stood out:

1. Food

Within the confines of the application’s virtual walls, it is perfectly normal to take grandiose pictures of your food. If people choose to, they can “like” it and share in the experience as if they were eating vicariously through the photo. Spent 3 hours conceiving that Foie Gras En Terrine? Immortalize it by whipping out your phone, snapping a picture, and adding a snazzy filter; in this case, maybe “Hefe” is best with the brightness enhanced.

tabbycockrell ‘s foie gras

Some people can be relied on to post a minimum of 3 immaculately framed  dishes a day. It doesn’t matter if this person has rushed across town during their lunch break to snag some street meat from a food truck; before it is consumed, this delicacy shall be circulating the internet. All the self-indulgent photos bring to mind the question, does Instagram compel people to eat out more regularly so as to satisfy their followers appetite for novice food photography?

“It was either pay rent or spring for the chocolate-stuffed french toast at brunch, so I went for the latter.”

2. Nature

 How many times can you look at a sunset or goddamn tree? Perhaps the 18 filters ensure that no two photos are the same. An appreciation for nature has been instilled in me by my passion for running, but I noticed that I’ve had an increased awareness of my flowered surroundings ever since I got Instagram. It appears that Instagram users would rather be in a field somewhere. That said, my front yard held a great subject in the form of a blossoming tree:

3. Insecurity

Social media affords people the chance to fashion a persona of themselves on the internet that isn’t really them, per se. Because of this tampering, others are made to feel as if their lives don’t measure up to the celebrities or even peers that they follow on Instagram. What Drake  said to Pitchfork regarding Tumblr is particularly relevant,

” Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments. It just kills me. Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living. It scares me.”

I live in a suburban neigborhood, and like many, the liveliest it gets is when all the elderly Italians’ sprinklers go off  each morning. Other than the perfectly manicured lawns, I don’t have much to work with. You won’t see me hitting up the MoMa like Complex style blogger Jian DeLeon (instagram username: jiandeleon)

MoMa exhibit

When compared with the prolific accounts of some of the New Yorkers and Torontonians I follow, my own pales in comparison. My photos lack any intriguing quality, but that doesn’t really matter. Plus I’m not as narcissistic as this guy:

blatant douchebaggery

Instagram username: tomimilos

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