Hashtag, You’re It! The Rise of Instagram
# is the sign of the times.
Year one- 2012: Some kids grow up and want to be an astronaut or a firefighter. You work hard, maybe someday it will happen. Some teens go through high school wanting to go to Harvard or the local community college. You work hard, maybe someday it will happen
2012- forseeable future: “You can be anything you want to be” is so literal since the creation of Instagram. You can stand in front of Harvard, snap a photo, pick the most hipster filter, and say you actually go to Harvard when you do not. Millions can potentially see it given you correctly hashtag said photo, and voila! You’re a Harvard undergrad studying law with a minor in sociology. Now before I go on a relatively serious rant about my qualms with the hit mobile app, I will put this disclaimer out there first: I use Instagram, I take “selfies” and I enjoy perusing through photos of other peoples lives; their perception of fun, their perception of beauty. Now that that’s off my chest, here we go.
Living is a wonderful thing and I try to do it as much as I can. I am talking about really living. The phone in my purse, my eyes taking in beautiful images of reality that go into my brain and form ooey-gooey lifegasms. Travel. Food. Relationships with real people. Adventures; things we inherently take for granted every moment of our blessed lives on this planet. We live on a planet. We exist in a humongous and inconceivably infinite universe that is begging us to pay more attention to it. Is having so many amazing experiences at our beck and call not enough? It musn’t be, because by my account, people spend too much time on social networks, but most notably, Instagram. Really. That’s where I’m going with this. I see it when I go onto the app, photo after photo of people trying entirely too hard to be sexy, or entirely too hard to look like they are “just chillen, no makeup, don’t cur” with forty pounds of makeup and an appointed Instagram outfit that no one in actual human life would look like when “chilling.” All day, too. It has to be an all day event in order to post the way some do, to keep up with the amount of likes and gaining followers. It’s a second job and sadly, second nature.
I love taking photos of myself when I’m dolled up and ready to go. I have zero shame in getting a closeup of my face with all the right applications of makeup on it. It’s fun. I could not care less about how many likes or comments my photos receive. I hashtag now and then: things like #walkingdead or #music or #travel, because I want people who enjoy those things to be able to access and enjoy them on a non-superficial level. But I don’t lie. I don’t shamelessly beg for “likes” and followers. I don’t hashtag incessant words about my made-up reality that I have thus, convinced myself makes me look cooler to others. I don’t go out of my way.
For the love of every puppy and kitten in this world purring simultaneously while rolling around on cotton candy clouds with rainbows can someone tell me why- WHY- people feel the need to hashtag an endless array of adjectives that would describe Cindy Crawford in her prime? For that same love times ten, tell me why people feel the need to hashtag an endless array of nouns in their freshly-filtered photo.
#beautiful #gorgeous #amazing #redlips #greeneyes #longhairdontcare #skinny #tan #barf
#shoes #heels #sneakers #shorts #pants #tanktop #jacket #scarf #necklace #earrings #barf
So wait, I need you to assault my precious eyeballs not only once, because your duckface killed any potential of you actually looking halfway decent, but then I need to read a description of what’s going on in the photo that a dumb fool with one eye can already see and understand.
I can always make an exception to the rule: hashtagging is O-K when it’s not about your fucking face.
Which brings me to the topic of likes. Why does it matter how many times someone double-tapped that photo of your Panera lunch. Do we care that you’re eating sushi, drinking Starbucks, just got a manicure- sure, some do. But offering “like for likes,” or buying more followers (you can do that) for the sole purpose of having 50+ likes on a photo from no one you actually know or have any acknowledgement of, well, what is the point?
I deeply believe that hungering for likes is a way to self-medicate insecurity. On Instagram, you can be whoever to millions around the world. You can pretend your life is so amazing without really doing much of anything at all. Instagram is a world in itself; a world where deceit runs rampant.
You can take Instagram for what it is, a mobile application for your cell phone that allows you to share photos of people, places and things with friends and those who share similar interests, or you can take Instagram and let the idea that faking happy will eventually make you happy, until keeping up with the task ends up ruling your life and ruining your identity. If Instagram blew up today, where would you be? Would you survive without the reassuring approval of complete and utter strangers? Would you be able to step outside your home and actually, physically and mentally live that life that you hashtagged a thesaurus worth of words for awesome? Would you know where to start? #PlanForTheFallofInstagram now, or forever be indebted to the time you wasted living in your cell phone. Wasted time. Wasted life. Nothing at all to show for it.