If you ever found yourself unable to attend a specific event, there was an old joke where you’d encourage another person to take lots of photographs, so that you’d be able to attend the event vicariously.
By seeing the pictures in the days that follow, you’d get a sense of what you missed, and even though it’s obviously not the same as being there, it’s better than nothing. That was the joy of taking pictures during significant events, so that you can pinpoint the best photograph afterwards, and then either put them in an album, or email them to somebody who wanted to be there, but couldn’t.
The pictures were personal, meant to be seen by your close friends and family. And certainly not meant to be spewed about for the entire world to see.
And it’s not necessarily a privacy issue. I know that the majority of parties or social gatherings don’t incorporate things like keg stands, nudity or bong rips that need to be kept under wraps and out of the public eye. All I’m saying is that there is something intimate and special about being somewhere, with the people who you like, and knowing that it is only the people in that room who are experiencing the same thing.
Well, Instagram has completely thrown that notion out the window.
Birthday party? #birthdaybash!
Wedding? Selfie time with the bride!
A Friday night out at a bar? What filter should I use?
It’s getting a little overboard. The benefit of a social media platform like Instagram is that we get to document and categorize our lives in the form of pictures. It allows us — when we’re bored — to scroll through our phone with ease, and remember all of the good times we’ve had recently.
But every single night out doesn’t need to be documented. Nor does it need to be done multiple times. There have been occasions when I’ve seen somebody post so many different pictures from a random night out at bar — a night of which had zero significance to begin with other than an excuse to get drunk — that I honestly felt like I was there. Sometimes there is enough evidence of people’s nights out that I can actually write a short story of the night simply by what I gathered from all of the photos.
I understand that when people are having fun, that they want the world to know they’re having fun. It’s a spontaneous decision in the moment to take a picture and upload it to Instagram. And it’s done out of excitement. I get that. But I’m just urging people to remember the times before Instagram, when you were having fun with your friends. Did you ever feel that something was missing?
Of course you didn’t. And did you ever say, “I really wish I could take a photo and upload it to my social network immediately.“?
That’s the other thing — why the urgency? It’s gotten to the point where people take photos, and then go through hell and high water (figuratively) to upload the picture. If the Internet’s down where they are, they’ll run elsewhere in hope of a better signal.
Also, I know we can dictate who sees our photos on Instagram, but, in today’s social media age, it’s only a matter of time where our number of Instagram friends matches our Facebook friends. And they, in turn, have the ability to share your Instagram photos with whomever they’d like. Let’s not kid ourselves — privacy, for all intents and purposes, is obsolete.
Perhaps I’m speaking prematurely, and maybe right now just happens to be the peak of Instagram’s popularity. Maybe its users will become bored with it, and stifle their usage of it as time elapses.
But, as it stands now, a fourth option might as well be added to Facebook event invitations:
2) Not Attending
4) Will View on Instagram