I was not an early instagram adopter.
My first post was on the 21st of August, 2011. My first three posts, in fact. They are all food-related, terribly shot and have that trademark early-Instagram black 'film' border around them. None of those photos got more than 4 likes. In fact, I'm not even sure I knew that Instagram had likes back then.
Fast-forward five and a half years, 2330 posts later and Instagram is a very different kettle of fish. The photos are better, the technology is more advanced, everything is more beautiful, and the 'likes' are exponentially more important.
Instagram now exists to help people show off. In 2011 I was posting photos of my empty sushi packets, dark, ill-lit selfies in the mirror with my head chopped off because I couldn't fit it in the square format. Shit was real. And not just in the way that people say things are real, I mean that was my real life. Instagram was instant, the photos were from what was happening there and then. No latergrams here. Now it's 2017 and the feed is not even in chronological order! (My biggest gripe with Instagram). The feed is not in chronological order, nothing is good enough to post and nothing is real.
Statista claims that of April this year, there are over 600 million active accounts on Instagram. That is a huge audience to tap into, and Instagram is a business - I get it. They need to sell ads. They need to make money. People use it to generate income.
I am guilty of all of that. I, the late-ish adopter, take photos to post later and pretend it's now. I doctor scenes to make them more aesthetically appealing, I have made money from sponsored posts. I, of all people, should not really be complaining, but here I am telling you it's all bullshit.
It's like I woke up one day and just got over it all. It started with this article on one man's journey to becoming an Instagram influencer. I read it and it both fascinated and really grossed me out at the same time. I unfollowed a bunch of people. Then I quit my blog (not this one, obviously, the other one that we don't talk about anymore)
and that day I was scrolling through my Instagram, saw a flatlay of a bunch of product someone got for free, a streetstyle-esque photo of someone crossing a road that they most definitely weren't crossing for real and a bunch of those encouraging comments people do - not because they really feel the need to comment, but more because I'm pretty sure the more you engage with others, the more people engage with you/the more likes and followers you get. ("Cool colours babe! <3", "Can't wait to try that!", "Love the pale pink one :)" - anyone notice how it's always other bloggers/influencers that do this?) and I started to feel disgusting. Was I following the wrong people or is this just how it is now?
Lani said something to me about this which I think sums it up nicely: "You know what it is? Everyone all of a sudden is selling us something - but they have nothing to sell."
Maybe it's easy for me to talk shit about Instagram now that I don't 'need' followers anymore because I am not relying on the app for income, but I can't help thinking about the good old days, when you could go online and see cool things your friends were doing and liked. The quality was sometimes pretty shit but the content was genuine and honest, and in 2017 with all that is going on in the world, it feels like something real is all we need.