My experience with Instagram is one that has been both positive and negative. I have seen the value that Instagram can bring to an individual or business but I have also seen the damage that it can do to society. Instagram is a constant bombardment of content posted by users, trying desperately to gain validation from their followers. Unlike Facebook, followers, and likes matter, and users will invest copious amounts of time trying to produce the best photo that will build their following.
Taking into consideration the role that an Ethnographer has when analysing media use in regards to the way they “observe, they listen, they write and record, they think and reflect – and they tell stories about what they have discovered” (Turnball, S 2018), I have reflected on my relationship with Instagram on a personal and business level. As a job I have worked with social media, either revamping a business’s online presence or creating one and with the right business, Instagram can be invaluable. It offers businesses another avenue where they can promote their company to a large audience for free. Without a social media presence, businesses are at a huge disadvantage to their competitors as they are able to interact directly with their consumer and receive instant feedback about their product or service.
Over the past few years, there has also been a rise in the number of people that are becoming ‘Instagram Famous’, where they have used the platform to create a brand for themselves. Instagram influencer Chontel Duncan has created a brand, promoting not only her gyms but herself as a fitness guru. Duncan has over half a million followers which have resulted in her gyms becoming more popular and has teamed up with several companies to promote their products.
Although in recognising the advantage that having Instagram can have on a business, on a personal level I know the pressure that exists for users to constantly supply their followers with content and to maintain a flow of gaining new followers and likes. The issue arises when individuals determine their self-worth based on the reaction that their photos receive. Although I am constantly using Instagram for my job, my personal account is vastly different.
Like others, I used to care about how my followers would react to content that I would post, but over the past few years, my profile consists of only a handful of photos that have been posted sporadically. I re-evaluated what I was gaining from posting photos on Instagram and where I determine my self-worth. Instead, I have now made my profile private and I only follow accounts and post content that I enjoy rather than trying to gain something from it. I also value my privacy and with the constant innovation of technology and the internet expanding, I limit the things that I share with the world. So even though I understand the personal effects that engaging with a social media platform such as Instagram can cause, I cannot completely write it off as damaging.
- Turnbull, S (2018), Lecture, Week 1, ‘What is ethnography and what are the ethics involved?’, 26th July 2018