Three years ago, Facebook bought Instagram for a cool 1 billion dollars and I first started my Instagram account. As with all products, there are early adopters and there are laggards. I am (a little proudly) a laggard in that I tend not to follow technological trends very closely. I don’t mind having a phone that is three years old, ancient in technological terms, or having a game console not from this decade. Instagram transcends this trait, at least for me.
I admit I was slow to accept Instagram and I only had a few pictures up in the first year. Recently, I have begun to post more pictures and start to browse other Instagram accounts. Whereas Facebook and Twitter seem so personal, Instagram can be simply objectively #amazing. There are many Instagram accounts out there just to showcase photography skills and sights seen while travelling.
To me, Instagram is the next best thing to actually going on adventures and seeing these sights for myself. Living vicariously through Instagram pictures leaves me with a sense of joy. I have come across photos of places I had visited in a different time of year and it is truly enjoyable to see the landmark or scene in a different perspective. Today, I came across the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with a Christmas tree and a darkened sky. The crowds were dressed in expensive coats, scarves, and tuques. It was vastly different than the Milan I knew in the summer. This photo led me to imagine Christmas in all the other places I had visited that summer. Instagram is a playground for amateur photographers who want to experiment, much like how a blog is for writers.
I have been experimenting with hashtags on Instagram to share some of my travelling pictures. Although there are many automated accounts that generate likes for just about any picture, there are a few people who genuinely enjoy a well-taken snapshot of a moment from my travels. Yes, I believe Instagram is turning into a mode of advertising; but compared to other forms of social media, it is the least monetized. Instagram has sponsored posts, large companies promoting their products, and many travel companies disguising as travel Instagram accounts (yet, I still love their pictures), but it isn’t all bad.
There are so many individuals who post their own photos and use a bevy of hashtags to spread their image around the Instaweb. I find this less intrusive than other methods to gain social media popularity. I’m not talking about hashtags like #likeforlike, #tagfortag #followforfollow, but more about the general ones used for photography or travel. Some people may be fishing for likes, but I still enjoy browsing the popular hashtags to search for some hidden gems.