Instagram- Friend or Fo?

Before you start filtering another photo, let’s talk about Instagram! How do you tell your friends they’re taking too many selfies? Do you unfollow close friends if they’re bothering you? There are so many social media grey areas when it comes to photo etiquette! Much like all the blurry filters on Instagram – the benefits and the drawbacks of the photo sharing app are hard to identify. Is it ultimately social or anti-social? And when does sharing turn into oversharing?

Pros: Keeping in touch, meeting new people, getting satisfaction from ‘likes’ and attention, being able to share exciting news, distraction, and exploring beautiful photo galleries!

Someone once told me that they liked Instagram more than Facebook and other social media because it was more difficult for users to ‘complain’ than on Facebook or Twitter. Posting a line from your diary on your FB status was much easier than finding an appropriate photo to mirror your complaints.

In addition, Instagram has been a wonderful way to connect with old friends and meet new people. A friend of mine organized a running crew through hash-tagging and connecting with fellow runners on Instagram. This type of community building online has encouraged meeting people with the same interests and hobbies. Instagram is also filled with hours of photography (some beautiful, some horrid), but hours of distraction nonetheless! There are some breathtaking images that you can find from peers and from searching hashtags. There’s real beauty and value in that. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Cons: Too many selfies, over-sharing, spending too much time filtering photos than seeing the sights around you, and fear of missing out (FOMO).

A friend of mine asked me why I didn’t ‘like’ her most recent photo on Instagram. My response was that I didn’t see it – it was a picture of her new furniture. I had skimmed through my feed not noticing it and it lead to a brief confrontation about why I skipped by it. It seemed like an unnecessary and trivial problem. We are beginning to take the ‘like’ count and attention as a sense of validation that we’re doing a good job at being ourselves. But that being said, how do you tell someone that their image/ caption/ online representation of their life is… well… not that interesting? While Instagram is largely social, it can also lead to taking less time to focus on the world around you. Fast company recently wrote a great article about how Instagram FOMO can be a tremendous problem! 

Nonetheless, we can ask ourselves why do we love YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and social media? Because it gives us a place for us to share and to find common ground for conversation. It’s easy to drown in Instagram feed tracking, so don’t forget to look up once in a while and see things through your own eyes. 

Tags: fear of missing out, FOMO, friendship, Instagram, loneliness, online communication, social media, Twitter

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