I’ve been on Facebook since 2007, and I have the embarrassing profile pictures to prove it. I’m still scrolling through my news feed pretty consistently, keeping up with family and friends. But I’ve gradually slipped away from it all, pulled into the magical all-photo realm of Instagram.
Honestly when Instagram first came out in 2010, I was skeptical. What was fun about just looking at a bunch of pictures? It seemed too simple to be interesting. But often it’s the simple things in life that stick around the longest, like vanilla ice cream or classy black and white photos. It’s turned out that Instagram’s simple and linear structure makes it super easy to use, and I have no problem with it functioning exclusively as a mobile app. Now I have too much fun spending time creating that perfect post that will get Instagram likes.
You may have seen memes that poke fun at Facebook news feeds refreshing before someone is done reading a post, and then they can’t find that post later to finish reading it. There are also posts on Tumblr about how the staff will give you everything you never asked for as a dashboard feature, but nothing anybody can do will help gifs load on mobile. I don’t have any of these problems on Instagram. Everything runs smoothly and is optimized for the modern day smartphone-using social media consumer.
Instagram also appeals to the visual consumption that is partial to human nature. I would rather look at a photo and understand it then have to read a paragraph describing the photo. Sometimes I would rather watch a movie than read a book. It’s an efficiency system that we all have. Taking in visual mediums rather than processing text information and converting it to visual information in our minds is simple – less thinking to do, and it’s not about laziness. It’s just how the human mind functions. We like to look at things, and even those of us who love to read, like me, sometimes just want to see a picture or watch a video to gather the information being directed at us. Visual marketing has gained massive amounts of traction lately, and Instagram is right on the forefront of making use of the human tendency to prefer images over words.
Let’s not forget that Instagram is a microblogging site. I love microblogging. I have this need to decorate my own little internet space and then fill it with pretty things. It’s like putting up posters of your favorite bands as a teenager. Sure, I can log into Facebook and post whatever I want, but it’s not the same. My timeline looks like everyone else’s at the end of the day, full of shared photos of puppies and memes. On Instagram, everything is unique to me, and I can tell whatever story I want through the simple images and minimalist posts that I create. With a filter I can decide if I want to be romantic, edgy, or cute. And let’s be honest, we all love how we look under a nice filter.