Using Instagram in 2019

Friday, June 28, 2019

8 years. That’s how long I’ve had an Instagram account. My Instagram profile is a curation, it is a reminder of everywhere I have been, some of my best photographs, akin to a portfolio. I have seen it go from a niche, Facebook acquisition, ads, it becoming a popular app, adding stories and messages. I’m not a fan of most of Instagram’s changes, so here’s a little bit about how I use Instagram these days, in 2019.

  • Instagram rose to popularity with a simple photo sharing model. Traditionally, photos have been a weird beast, with everyone shooting them in different sizes and resolutions (ask Flickr or 500px). Instagram offered to level this field by forcing a square photo. Square photos, that’s it. You choose what you will crop out, but the end photo must be a square. That was the allure to me. It forced users to be creative and critical. Much like Twitter with its 140 character limit, Instagram’s square was culture-defining. Heck, Apple added a ‘square’ mode to the iOS camera app a few years after Instagram was first released, because some people exclusively shot photos to post on Instagram! So, that’s what I do on Instagram, even today: Post square photos.
  • I have posted a few photos over the years that were not squares, but made such by using tools to add borders. I think that’s fine, every once in a while. What I don’t think is fine, though, is the posts that have borders on all 4 sides; it doesn’t add anything to the value of the post. Instagram posts are tiny, and by putting borders on all 4 sides, you are essentially playing your followers to force them to tap on it from your profile page.
  • I do not post stories on Instagram. I will post them fairly often to Snapchat, but never on Instagram. I think stories are an abomination on Instagram. The baggage of who you are, what exists on your profile, the followers and how that mashes with your ‘personality’, forces people to spend more time on creating stories than enjoying what is in those stories. That pressure doesn’t exist on Snapchat, where a story exists to tell a simple, quick and dirty story (literally) of what you are doing. Blurry? Doesn’t matter. No caption? Better! On Instagram, it is to showoff, not to have fun.
  • Instagram is not how I communicate with everyone I know; that’s Messages or WhatsApp. I refuse to follow everyone I have ever run into (I already have Facebook for that!), because seeing their posts or stories do not bring value to my life. I use Instagram to see the work of some of the best photos and read captions that will enrich the photograph by supplementing it. In fact, I regularly curate my following list and unfollow people who do not add value to my feed.
  • I love the messages features on Instagram, it is a simple, great way to share posts with people, who I care about, and share something they will enjoy.
  • I think the whole concept of Instagram influencers is flawed. I understand ads and sponsored content on YouTube, because it is video and no one does video like YouTube. It is not feasible to host, encode and transmit videos as easily as text or photos over the internet (yet?). But since most content is photos on Instagram, if it is your own content, it deserves to be elsewhere. We have had blogs since the advent of the internet for this exact reason: for people to own their own content! If you have content that is worthy enough that people would go where you are to see it, great, host it in a place where you own it. If not, you are not really an influencer.
  • I am not a fan of the ads, but eh, whatever.

There was a time when I loved Instagram. It saddens me that I do not feel as strongly about it anymore.