Truth time? I’m a virgin. An Instagram virgin, that is. Up until a couple of months ago I had never even heard of this billion dollar baby, and asking your fellow classmates in a media degree, “What’s the deal with Instragram?” is kind of like when your parents ask you how to join “The Facebook”. Really lame. Not wanting to risk my effortlessly cool and “totes down with the kids” reputation, I remained ignorant of the photo-sharing app connecting millions around the globe, with no outlet to publish all the photos I took of my cat and Sunsets I Have Seen. After a few tentative Google searches and a whole lot of sneaking through my friends Instagram accounts on their phones, I feel like I can now confidently navigate my way through a world coloured by Valencia and Earlybird.
But is the natural progression of photo-sharing video-sharing?
Even from the title, its clear that one of the obsessive attractions to Instagram is its instant gratification. It’s one thing to upload a cute-funky-retro-chic photo to the interwebs and sleep easy knowing you’ve done your part in temporarily relieving the monotony of train rides and work breaks worldwide, but working with video is a whole different ball game. The current photo-sharing model allows anyone the ability to instantly create dreamy, nostalgic images, and requires little to no actual skill.
While even the most amateur photographers can fake a Fine Arts degree through the application of a filter, can the same be done for videos? There are so many more elements such as editing, narrative, audio quality and music choice that make watching a video an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. The fundamental problem with appropriating the Instagram concept to video is that, with our incessant need for instant gratification, we do not have time in our busy schedules to bother with that shit.
One is free to mindlessly trawl through thousands of images in photo-sharing, however this would not be possible if Instagram moved in the direction of film. Didn’t bring headphones out with you today? Sorry, you can’t play anymore. As horrifically lazy as it sounds (because it is), mental stimulation is not on the top of our priorities list when it comes to social media. Actually having to select what videos look worthwhile and dragging our heavy scrolling finger to click the play button forces users to activate some sense of mental engagement. And as a self-elected representative of Gen Y, I can tell you that we do not take kindly to being forced to do anything.
It seems that our social media culture has conditioned us to find validation in putting our lives on display and being rewarded with a like, a follow or a comment. But the more of ourselves we relinquish to the judgement of other people, the more we manufacture a life to look like something we think other people want to see; one that isn’t really ours at all. At least working with film there is no way to capture the perfect expression of sexy/pouty/cute/surprised; unlike in still photography, there is nowhere to hide.
Perhaps sharing videos would be a lot more honest way to communicate, in that it’s pretty much an unavoidable case of what you see is what you get. But considering most of us can’t even keep up with our own hashtags, it seems doubtful that the unprecedented success and popularity of Instagram could progress to video any time soon.