GRSJ 300 Culture Jam

Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking application owned by Facebook. On this app, users get to upload photos and videos that can be edited with various filters, that are organized with hashtags and location settings. Instagram Users can share their post publicly, or selectively with their pre-approved followers. Users can like photos and follow other users to curate the content that appears on their feed. At its start Instagram’s main focus was the app’s photo-sharing features, the idea was communication through images. It was named Instagram because it referred to the idea that users were posting a type of instant telegram. With its cool photography features Instagram quickly became the number one photography application in the app store.

The problem I find with this add is their simplistic camera logo intended to be representative of what Instagram still is. Instagram is no longer just a photo-sharing app focused on photography. Instagram has become a one-stop shop for everything social. The app went from a user-friendly photo-sharing app to an algorithm-based addiction, aimed to keep users online for as long as possible while bombarding them with ads and sponsored posts. Instagram now is about long-term engagement. This began when they changed the app from just photos and added videos, followed by stories, followed by IG-TV, followed by Instagram music. Moreover, the creators of the app also changed the way the app works. They replaced the user’s ability to curate their own feed based on who they follow. Instead, they created an algorithm that essentially shows you what they think you want to see based on who you follow and the posts you like. To quote Instagram: “To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.” As a result, Instagram has become an endless scroll of posts an algorithm knows you will like, in order to keep you scrolling as long as possible. This is not to benefit the user. Instead, it allows Instagram to sell feed placement to advertisers since now the idea is that the ad is “something you care about” based on the posts that you’ve liked that an algorithm curated especially for you. This leads to ads being more prominent on your feed than the posts of your friends and family – Since it’s designed to push “popular” content in front of more people.

I changed the name of the app from Instagram to Instant-gram. To me, this was a play on the fact that Instagram has now become addictive, and checking the app has become gratifying. Posting a picture and then watching the likes and comments pour through, feeds our egos and releases serotonin and dopamine into the brain, this is instant gratification. The brain recognizes this as a reward and then craves more, so its obvious why users continuously check their page and put so much effort into making sure their post gets as many likes as possible. 

The other edits I made were to the camera itself, I changed the lens of the camera to a clock. to me, this is representative of how the goal of Instagram went from capturing images to holding us captive. The new algorithms designed to keep us on the app as long as possible through showing us an endless supply of things we are captivated by. As a result, we often lose track of how much time we are spending on the app.  

The final edit I made is to the viewfinder. In photography, a viewfinder is what the photographer looks through to compose and to focus the picture. I replaced the viewfinder with a closed lock. To me, this is symbolic of how as users on Instagram to a degree we are no longer in control of what we see. The Instagram algorithm now decides what we see and its main focus is to keep us locked in and engaged with the app. When Instagram first launched we only saw photos and content that we curated it was kind of like being a photographer and going out to search for pictures you enjoyed looking at, now instead users are constantly bombarded with them. 

When people started joining Instagram almost 10 years ago, it was to share a few personal photographs with a minimal amount of friends and family but as it got popular marketers began to understand the power of leveraging it to interact with their consumers and the whole dynamic changed.  Users began posting pictures and videos solely to gain followers and attention. This when posts like, outfits of the day, tutorials, and selfies became extremely popular. Instagram went from sharing your interests, to share your life in order to try and monetize it.