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The New Uses of Instagram

By Esha Peer ('21)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The use of social media has transformed over the years, mainly on the platform Instagram. Once used like Facebook to simply share photos and memories, the social media site has become a source of fame for many in unique ways. Some of the many examples include Kim Kardashian West, Rupi Kaur, and Andrew Bachelor.

On October 6, 2010, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched what would become one of the largest used social media platforms used by teenagers. In 2012, after becoming a sensation in only two years, instagram was bought by Facebook.

Based on a CNBC article, as of 2017 Instagram has 800 million active users per month, and may have grown in this past year. On top of that, the number of advertisers has reached 2 million.

A story in the Inc magazine explained the start of Instagram. The site started out as just a college project, but in 2012 the platform became huge after Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion.

Unlike Facebook, which is just a social connecting platform, Instagram is made just for sharing pictures. Although still social media, this is more based on the layout of the feed rather than connecting to others.

The beginning of Instagram was humble, but the years have changed how people use it to express themselves. Once a place to post photos of self-interest, most can find high quality pictures being posted by a large majority.

Sophomore Mihika Yadav started her instagram account in 2014. She has seen the platform grow and develop for almost five years, with her own account changing as well.

“As you grow older, the pressure to post nicer things is more,” said Mihika.

The main source of this change is, arguably, the celebrities who have Instagram accounts. The celebrity’s follower count shows how many people see their posts, and in effect may take inspiration from his or her feed ideas.

“There’s so much power behind it, so [I thought] why not have a great feed? It was my way of having my own little voice,” said sophomore Tanya Verma.

Verma was inspired by celebrities to start her own great feed, taking examples from people like Liza Koshy. The feed has a “theme”, or visual consistency in the images which are posted. It’s more of an art today.

Although not all celebrities follow this idea of a theme, many have made innovations to the way Instagram is used. Their feeds are inspirations for all, and here are just a few examples.

Kim Kardashian West is probably one of the most famous examples of a reality show and instagram star. Her fame began when the reality TV show known as Keeping Up with the Kardashians was released in October, 2007.

The reality TV show star joined Instagram in 2012, two years after its initial release. Soon, her influence reached new levels on the platform, and based on an article from Business Insider, she is the fifth most followed person as of 2017.

Kardashian West is notoriously known for her advertising on Instagram, though she is not exclusively part of this business. Based on many sources, she makes a large amount of money from endorsing companies to advertise their products.

Photography teacher Ms. Kimberly Coleman believes many people, not just Kim Kardashian, use Instagram for purposes other than art.

“If you’re [an artist and] posting your work you’re kind of selling yourself to get more people to ask you to do a painting to do a painting for them, rather than using it as an art form,” she said.

Often, celebrities use their high social media standings to gain prosperity rather than truly expressing their interests and personality.

Although Kim uses Instagram as a source of money, she is also known for her influence from the “feed” she posts. A feed is a stream of photos posted by a specific person. The Instagram feed has become a form of art, from not only posting pictures randomly, but specific edits, colors, and poses to represent a story or personality.

This art form which Kardashian has portrayed has been an inspiration and a source of many trends in the past. For example, last year Kim Kardashian changed her feed from tan to a more nostalgic feel after being robbed at gunpoint in Paris. This change went viral, and seemed to produce change in American culture. Although her feed has gone back to what it once was, her changes and style have shaped instagram culture.

Similarly, Rupi Kaur is a Canadian-Indian poet, originally from Punjab and now settled in Toronto. Arguably, no poets has had such a large influence on social media culture as this 26-year old. Kaur’s 2014 book, Milk and Honey, became a national phenomenon in its success, and this may have been due to her ability to manipulate the social media platform.

Kaur is a young artist, and integrates photos of herself with her sketches and poems. Her use of Instagram is unique from most other social media users in using Instagram as a form of art other than just modeling, creating a new aesthetic on Instagram.

When considering if Instagram is a form of art, it “depends with how they connect with different people around the world [and] if it resonates with an audience,” said Mr. Norman Chow.

Kaur is able to achieve this.

Additionally, Kaur has overcome her ethnicity and become a strong influence on Western culture, another reason her Instagram is so awestriking and inspirational.

A final example of the Instagram platform changing is the use of it from Andrew Bachelor, more commonly known as “Kingbach”, his profile name on Instagram and Youtube. The star emerged with many others from the 7-second video site known as “Vine” and was titled the most followed viner in 2015.

After the platform shut down in 2017, the star as well as other colleagues went to YouTube and Instagram to integrate their talents into these other social media outlets.

Now, instead of common vines, Bachelor makes short skits to humor his followers. Bachelor has had huge success through this. Taking videos may not be part of the conventional Instagram feed, however, the short comedic scenes Bachelor makes are able to bring more life to the site known for its models and simple pictures.

While Instagram started out as a place just like most other social media outlets, the platform has transformed with different influencers changing how pictures and videos are posted. The site has become a way to express forms of art, whether it be through posing and edits, sketches and writing, or short films. Instagram is a way to express who a person is, and influencers have been able diversitize how one can accomplish this.

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