Ok so I was very anti-Instagram for a long time. I just thought it was some new dumb version of Tumblr and I was not about that. But then I finally got on there and saw what it was all about, and let’s face it, Instagram kind of rules the roost these days. Every image we capture has an underlying question: *will this make a good Insta post?*
You can’t help but have that goal in mind when you take a snap of you and your friends, lounging on a luscious round towel, soaking up some rays and knocking back some coronas. It’s like you’re in one of their ads– and maybe if you post on Instagram and tag them, you could feature on their page?! HOW EXCITING!
I don’t know why we care, I really don’t, but that’s what happens in this space. We get caught up with the other contributors of the Instagram world and we want, we need, the followers, we need the likes. It’s pretty ridiculous when we look at it that way. But that’s how companies have benefited: they advertise. No. Sorry. They get Instagram famous people to advertise. That’s what’s so wild about this world. Yes, there are famous people on Instagram, but Instagram has it’s own realm of famous people. We look at the lives of these people through their Instagram windows and we boil with jealousy– their lives look too perfect, and we want them.
Now, there’s this idea of self-presentation that Goffman (1974) discusses. He divides it into frontstage and backstage performances. Basically, the frontstage forces us to be extremely cautious and guarded in the ways we present our self, and the backstage remains generally less scripted or aware. (Smith & Sanderson 2015,p. 343) “as individuals consider how to self-present, they balance both individual goals and the “self” that they perceive the audience desires”.
This whole concept is extremely relevant in the Instagram world. We put forward a version of ourselves that we think our followers want to see, and what we want them to see. Obviously this space only showcases certain aspects of your life, that’s what it’s designed to do.
I use my Instagram to share pictures of exciting things I’ve been doing– places I’m currently traveling, something funny my friends are doing, a pretty scene I’m experiencing, and of course, OF COURSE, the food that I am eating. Posting photos of yourself is acceptably shameless. No one judges you anymore, because they do it too. Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. We’re humans and we’re cruel and we make judgements of people, regardless of how kindhearted we are.
Instagram gives us this individual desire to create an image of who we are, what we do, and how we live our lives. It’s about sharing these aspects of our lives with our audience. Friends and family will appreciate what you do and what you’re posting, because they know you and they’re supposed to care. And then you can break out of this immediate bubble and pierce into the wide realm of Instagram– where anyone cares.
Reichert Smith, L. and Sanderson, J. (2015). I’m Going to Instagram it! An Analysis of Athlete Self-Presentation on Instagram. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(2), pp.342-358.