Thursday, September 20, 2012

Instagram It!

If I had penny for every time someone I know saw something cool and said, “Instagram it!”, I’d probably have, like, five bucks, which is a lot, considering the fact that Instagram is a fairly new application. (I say fairly new because it was introduced earlier this year, which, in the technology world, makes it middle-aged. Luckily, Instagram frequently adds changes to their app, keeping it mod and up-to-date.)

It took me a while to download it. Social media has already taken over so much of my life that the last thing I need is another outlet. If I want to share a milestone, I post it on Facebook. If I have a philosophical, hilarious, or cynical thought, I post it on Twitter. If I go for a run, I post it on LifeKraze. Want to know about my day? Check out my blog. I mean, I feel like my life has become Show-And-Tell times infinity, except the notes from the Tooth Fairy and rocks found in my backyard were way more entertaining to my Kindergarten classmates than anything I’m doing now. (What? You don’t want to know what I’ve eaten for.every.meal. or what I'm doing every.second.? TWITPIC!)

Last July, however, it all changed. I went on a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina with a few friends from college. We stayed at my aunt’s new vacation house and spent our days at the pool and our nights gossiping and eating chocolate cake from our favorite bakery in Greenville, South Carolina, Brickstreet. One night, I noticed that one of my friends hadn’t started eating her slice of cake, as she stood poised over it, pointing her camera phone at it.

At this point I was rounding the corner of my last bite, when I finally asked, “What are you doing?” I asked for two reasons: one, I really wanted to know what she was doing and, two, if she wasn’t going to eat the cake, I would.

“I’m trying to take the perfect picture to post on Instagram,” she said, as she took her first bite, at last satisfied with the picture. “Now I just need to pick out the filter…”

I rolled my eyes. I was so sick of this Instagram business. People would take pictures of their friends, dogs, or food (that’s basically all Instagram is, right?) and then edit it to make it look artsy. It took me back to my middle school MySpace days, when we would all over-contrast our pictures, or, if all else failed, put it in black and white because everyone looks better in black and white.

Responding to my eye roll with another eye roll, she said, “Of all people, you’re one to judge.”

Guilty, I thought, as I sent a status out to every social media account on my phone.

“Fine,” I said. “Tell me a little bit more about it."

Over the course of five minutes (I’m ashamed to say that’s all it took), she showed me around Instagram, I downloaded it, and the rest is history.

What is it about Instagram, though, that makes it so appealing? Even my friends who have deleted their Facebook accounts or refuse to set up a Twitter account love Instagram.

First, like most social media networks today, it's easily accessible. You can either take a picture from your phone or upload one directly to the app. You can send it to your other accounts at the same time, and then, not only does it post it for your friends to see, it saves it in your Photos folder just for you.

Second, it isn't text-heavy. A lot of people dislike other social media sites because they don't care to read what everyone is doing, and they don't think that their life is interesting enough to put into words. With Instagram, though, it's as easy as point, shoot, and post. You don't have to pick a filter if you don't want one, and you don't even have to post a caption. And, from the viewpoint of checking out other friends' postings, all you have to do is scroll and look.

Third, pictures are more appealing than words; it's the show, don't tell school of thought. You can tell me how delicious your dinner was, how last night's sunset was the most beautiful you've ever seen, or how much fun you are having with your friends, but telling me doesn't have the same effect as showing me.

Why do you think Instagram has gotten to be so popular?

-Hayley Lyons

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