Breakup 3.0 “Instagram”
It’s official. Mark Zuckerberg may have been one of the pioneers of social media but his baby, Facebook, has started to be pushed to the side as other platforms have risen to the top of the social media world. In just the six years since our book was published there have been different social media platforms to come and go and although Facebook has far from vanished, in the younger generation it has come very close. However, if you run into a University of Findlay student while enjoying a meal at Henderson Dining Hall or walking down Cory Street, you will have a hard time finding one who does not have the Instagram application downloaded onto their phone. This program has started to take over in the social media world and college students in particular have found ways to utilize all of its features.
The social media boom has been something that has taken the world in storm. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2005 only seven percent of adults used at least one social media, however ten years later in 2015 that number has grown to 65 percent. Of course young adults have spearheaded this growth as 90 percent of young adults use social media. Seniors are starting to conform to the technology as well though as 35 percent now report using the media compared to 11 percent in 2010. That would be over three times the amount that used it just those five years ago. (Perrin, 2015)
There is an obvious trend among the college population that goes along with the Instagram application. In a separate study done by the Pew Research group in 2015, it shows that only 28 percent of adults use Instagram. However, 55 percent of those aged 18 to 29 use the application and if you have some college education you have a 32 percent chance of using the application as compared to a 25 percent chance if you have a high school education or less. (Duggan, 2015)
It’s a simple concept really and it is obvious that at the core it is what the creators of Instagram were after. The mobile app for iOS and Android lets you take those snapshots or videos from your phone and post them on a timeline for all of your followers to see. That is where Instagram started. Since then the program has grown to feed off of other social media applications and become one of the most widely used in the world. In 2012, less than two years after its launch, the program was purchased by Facebook and now has over 500 million active users every month (Saloman, 2013).
Even before we get more into the ideology of Instagram though it might be better to look at Facebook and Twitter first. The latter of these two has started to feel more like someone is trying to manipulate you. If there is one thing that college students do not like it is restrictions and that is what Facebook has started to put on them. The kicker, the fact that Facebook has actually started charging in some cases, really puts them behind the eight ball when it comes to college students. I mean if there is another free alternative out there, they will be the demographic to take advantage of it.
Twitter on the other hand feels incredibly free. Sure, there are privacy settings and ways to flag posts but even they are rarely used. Twitter just seems to be free flowing, without as many restrictions (Pantland, 2014).
Instagram seems to be more like Twitter in the above example. It is very unobtrusive and aims to let users supply all of the content. The fact that it is incredibly simple and easy to navigate also seems to be a big bonus for the application. College aged students also appeal much more towards the visual. This is another big part of the reason that Instagram is taking over. It is easier to glance at a picture than to sift through tweets that may or may not be of importance.
Idioms of Practice
The like button on Instagram may have transformed itself into one of the most popular ways to flirt among college students. After all, that’s what most users are really after when they get on Instagram anyway. It’s become a game really. Kip from Napolean Dynamite even appears in memes poking fun at the game that young adults tend to play with each other on Instagram. It is no coincidence that women are more active when it comes to posting on this social media. In 2015 the amount of women who used Instagram was up seven percent from men (Duggan, 2015). Women like the attention that they receive when they are posting pictures. Men on the other hand, are more than willing to give the attention to the women.
So what makes Instagram different than Tinder? This seems to be a fair question since it seems as though the main focus for both is to gain the attention of the opposite gender. However, I think that Instagram allows young adults to do so in a more acceptable manner socially. When using Tinder, especially for females, it may come across as desperate. This is not the case for Instagram. It is very easy for a college aged girl to disguise that mirror pick with a meaningful quote to avoid criticism even if the purpose of the post is still the same.
Structure of the Medium
Instagram has not spared any avenue for communication. They have made the avenue for connection clear and users take advantage. On December 12, 2013 the application caught the attention of every young adult when they added the direct messaging feature. It is really the key component to the communication process. It brought “sliding into the dms” from Twitter right into the Instagram world.
It answered the question that many people had been asking themselves. There seemed to be a missing step in that communication process but not anymore. Many college relations have no doubt blossomed from this addition to Instagram. Instead of having to track down a phone number or snapchat username, you can now talk to others right on Instagram. This provides users with the ability to ask others out on dates and at the minimum a great opportunity to get to know one another through messaging.
The development of the application has also been aided by improvements in mobile phone cameras. A wide range of filters can now be applied to photos directly from the Instagram application before even posting the photos to your timeline. Other features like cropping, straightening, rotating and adjusting perspective are also available (Wong, 2015).
As Instagram fed off of Twitter with a direct messaging system, they also fed off of one of Snapchat’s best ideas as well. The application took the Snapchat Story and took it across platforms to Instagram on August 2, 2016. Although this feature hasn’t taken off quite like direct messaging there is one advantage to it. Pictures and videos that are posted to a users story appear in a slideshow format and are always at the very tope of the screen in their own timeline when you log into your account. The advantage is that these pieces of media will disappear in a 24 hours. No worries for college students about having problems with a future employer for posting inappropriate things if they are just going to disappear right? (instagram.com, 2016)
When Instagram was developed it was the best of both worlds. You had Facebook for the pictures and you had Twitter for the short messages and then bang, you had them both with Instagram. I asked one of my teammates about how he used Instagram and he immediately showed signs of remediation. He tended to take things that he had done on both of those previous social media sites and taken them to Instagram. Although it wasn’t anything new and creative, he really had no trouble at all adjusting to the platform and says he posts every week or so.
I had a unique opportunity earlier this year that many people my age probably don’t have. I walked one of my friends through creating his first Instagram account. This individual, a 21-year-old male, had never used Twitter or Facebook before, just Snapchat. I know, I didn’t believe it either but it was the case. I quickly helped him create his account but he didn’t like it. I quickly realized that this was because he had never used anything like it before. That was when it hit me. I showed him the Instagram story feature that had been adopted from Snapchat and he loved it. It has been the only feature that he has enjoyed.
These two friends have shown me a clear example of remediation in Instagram and made me open my eyes to other way that the platform could be used.
Online there is no face to face communication so there are a lot of things that need to be understood to communicate effectively. In essence, things are assumed and you need to be able to understand this. I thing Instagram brings this to the forefront with the highly debated like button.
Sure, the like button is all well and good for college-aged men… if they are single. I have a roommate who is not single and who still has an Instagram account that he is on regularly. Now this particular roommate, lets call him Austin, has taught me that you need to really watch what you do on Instagram with the ever powerful like button especially if you have a girlfriend.
Since likes are able to be tracked on ones account, Austin’s girlfriend took the liberty one night of going on his account and checking to see which posts Austin had been liking. Of course she was not the least bit thrilled to find out that he had been liking the posts of some girls that she did not approve of.
Although Austin may not have meant anything by the likes it sent a clear message to me. Obviously if his girlfriend was worried about what he was liking, to her there was a meaning behind liking Instagram posts and it was important. Although it didn’t in this case, I have no doubt that this is the type of thing that could even potentially cause a breakup. I think Austin had a defense in this case by denying that he meant anything by it. He simply didn’t understand the second-order of information. However, if he had taken another step and possibly messaged a girl that would have all flown out the window. I think messaging would have spelled clear intent.
What is the Public?
The Instagram audience is immense. One of the reasons for this is the map feature that allows you to tag where you are. Every time you post to Instagram you have the option to tag your location on a global map. This allows users, even the 80 percent that are outside of the United States, to see exactly where you were at. Needless to say there are some potential dangers to this. Jack Vale, a YouTube prankster demonstrates how you can use this map to pinpoint someone’s location in the following prank.
Although this may appear to be comical, it is also quite eye opening. If your profile is set to public anyone can see it, literally anyone. Women need to be aware that there are people who are stalkers and there is no doubt that social medias like Instagram are areas that they target.
Instagram has come a long way since its development in 2010 but the principle concepts are still there (instagram.com, 2016). It is used by young adults because it is a platform that they are comfortable with, and one that allows them all of the necessary paths of communication whether that may be subtle like liking another users picture, or direct, like direct messaging them. Many relationships have been affected by this social media and many more likely will be.