Friday, June 15, 2012

Let's talk about Instagram.

Instagram. Let’s talk about it.

It’s my favorite app. It’s my cousin’s favorite app. And as soon as my mom gets her iPhone, it will be her favorite app. It’s a great practice in communication. Instagram succeeds where Facebook (and sometimes Twitter) fails. People on Instagram take photos of things they like, so really, you’re only seeing nice things (that’s debatable).

Yes, the wonders of Instagram have been echoed throughout the highest tech-elons. I don’t need to tell you why it’s great; you’ve already figured that out. However, what I want to bring to your attention was sparked by a post on Gizmodo.

The Atlantic Wire’s Richard Lawson jokingly expresses some concern that future generations would think we “looked like Instagram.” I don’t think I mind if that’s what future generations will think of us. They better not care because pretty soon, my Instagram feed will be the sole thing that catalogues my life. That’s fine with me. It’s self-contained, easily shareable, and I’ve gotten some great little books printed out of my favorite shots.

But Lawson makes a very good point about how we probably view our parents’ and grandparents’ lives based on the photographic evidence. I have a small portion of my late, great-uncle’s photographs. The majority of photographs were self-portraits, of him posing with his hibiscus plant, his dogs and his cars. He was an exceptionally interesting man, and I remember him very well. He died when I was a kid, so I remember him in the lens of the ‘90s. But when I look at the photographs I have of him, I am instantly transported back to that time era (mostly the late ‘60s and ‘70s). The coloring is different, the focus is softer, and the whole image evokes a much different feel. But of course, it’s how we see the past, and not how people in the past actually lived life within the photographs.

So, with Instagram, we are trying to imitate that look and feel, on an aesthetic level, for whatever reason. But do we want to try to imitate an era that isn’t ours? Evoke feelings of one era, that are’t true to ours? Everything looked the same as it does now. The sky was the same blue. The grass was the same green. But our view of the past is different, just as the view of our parents’ and grandparents’ past were different. The photographs they had of the past may have been black and white, but they knew people didn’t *really* live in black and white. That’s ridiculous.

We have cameras capable of taking beautiful, true-to-life photographs, but c’mon, those cameras cost two arms and two legs (up from an arm and a leg, due to inflation) and frankly, I’m fine with only ever taking pictures with my iPhone. Our visual history will exist as is, and future generations will know that in real life, the colors were all the same, even if the photographic evidence says differently.

Here are a few of my favorite recent Instagram shots from my feed. It’d be sad if I were that grainy IRL.

These bad boys were a little more saturated IRL.

My cousin and I usually don't have that sunshine following us around. 
Did I go back in time to take this photo? Nope. Just the right filter, and a little Portland fog. 
This depicts me as deceivingly tan. This is not the case.

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