For years, Instagram has been like a thorn in my side. Despite working as a graphic designer, I’ve always found myself more attracted to words than images. We’ve all heard that a photo is worth a thousand words, but is it—really? Words have power, they have meaning. Images can be powerful, but at the rate images were showing up on Instagram, what have we really been saying? Let’s look at the social media of the world and delve a bit deeper…
First, there’s Instagram up until this week. It was a place where users shared images, surprisingly often heavily edited or uploaded from digital SLR cameras. Sure, the images told a story, but from my experience watching from a distance, the most popular travel Instagrammers were the ones who told a story in their captions to really support the images they were sharing. But for the most part Instagram has really been about beautiful images of beautiful people doing beautiful things. That’s not bad, of course—and it really can be quite an attractive way to view the world—but there’s also just so much more to our world.
Twitter has always been one of my favorite social media. In fact, my travel blog started out first as a Twitter account (@travelsofadam) before the character limit forced me onto WordPress. And if you look back at Twitter’s amazing history, it’s done some truly incredible and revolutionary things (actually spurring true revolutions, in fact). And, mostly, it’s done it all with words. That’s power.
So when my Instagram popped up this week with the new Instagram Stories feature, I was pretty excited. You see, because while the app is obviously (and rightfully) still image-based, it’s now made it possible for a bit more reality. The stories feature allows for more creativity such as adding text, colors and even a cool neon brush tool to layer on top of photos, videos or even Boomerangs. It’s possible to respond and reply directly to each image, much like in that other app, but with direct and private conversations I suspect we’ll all find ways to connect a bit more honestly and openly.
Images can and do lie. It’s the basic premise of the FOMO experience we’ve all felt at some point in time. We curate our lives online to tell more meaningful stories and, often, put a positive spin on what’s going on. But life is life and there’s little point in avoiding reality. It’s probably why I’ve almost always preferred Twitter and Snapchat for sharing my own story because they were so much easier to keep as a true reflection of my life, an honest portrayal of my digital life.
Social media is truly one of my favorite things from the 21st century. I believe it’s done so much for our world, improving our quality of life and enabling us to connect and communicate in new and profound ways. I understand the detractors who purposefully remove themselves from social media, whether as a form of protest or as a way to focus on the present. But I do still believe we can be in both the digital and real world at once.
Instagram is often touted as one of the favorite social media, for young people, for millennials, for marketers, for brands, for moms and even for people’s dogs. The new Instagram Stories feature finally allows those of us that want to, to show the world in a more realistic and honest way. On my Instagram Story, you’ll find real-time updates from my travels (and probably a few too many selfies). But I promise to continue to keep my social media presence as honest and real as I can. Social media, for me, is an extension of myself. Call me a millennial or whatever you want, but I want to connect to the world and I want to do it online as much as offline.
So, I’ll see you on Instagram…
(and Twitter, and Snapchat, and….)
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Follow me on Instagram for a real-time view of my travels around the world:
The Travels of Adam Instagram account has been featured among the best:
7 Real People’s Instagrams That Will Make You Want to Travel Right Now (Yahoo! Style)
10 Gay Travel Instagrammers You Should Be Following (Next Magazine)
12 Gay and Lesbian Travelers You Should Follow (Out Traveler)