Cowgirl Confab: Sam and Pam talk about Instagram
Instagram is a mobile app that lets you share visual moments, either privately among your own friends and family, or publicly on the Internet, as well as on Facebook, which bought the company this year. Until very recently, you could also share the photos to Twitter. Instagram is a separate social network in its own right. You can share photos and add pretty (and kitschy) filters to them, with or without a comment describing what you are sharing. You can follow other Instagrammers, and “heart” or comment on their photos.
Q: How do you use Instagram?
Sam: I use Instagram to communicate tiny moments of emotion and visual beauty. I’ve always loved the idea of sharing things that I do not know how to describe with words. Maybe it is the painter in me, but this fills a need that is close to my heart. I follow people who share images that move me. Sometimes, when I’m down or bored and I just need a bit of visual poetry, I open the app and trawl the stream, hearting everything that stirs me.
Pam: Just like Sam, I use it to capture moments of beauty, but for me it’s mostly about preserving and collecting them. I send them all to a Tumblr where I can peek at them during the work day for a little break. Of course I’m flattered when other people follow me and like my pics, but I don’t expect them to necessarily see beauty in the same things I do. I also love Instagram because it’s a window on the world, my own personal National Geographic in my pocket. I like being able to see what people in places I’ve never been — or places I know and love — are seeing, and what touches them. Makes me feel more connected to humanity. I don’t know most of the people I follow or who follow me.
Q: Was Instagram everything you’d hoped it would be?
Sam: It was. For a long time. But that is changing, and I’m quite broken up about it. Instagram was my go to app, my desert island app. (If I could have only one…) I was late to the party, as an Android user. The app was only available for iPhone for a very long time. And I would fawn and drool over the idea of using it. The day the Android version launched I jumped, and never looked back. I was bitten by the Instabug. And then Facebook bought the company, and I started to worry. Earlier this week some very frightening news about photo ownership and advertising was announced. Some of the people that I love to follow the most left. I haven’t deleted my account, yet, but I don’t quite know what to do. The company has since changed their position, and said that they are listening to the users, when an outcry against the sudden changes hit the web, but I don’t know. It may be, for me, too little, too late. Honestly, the jury is still out, in my case.
Pam: I didn’t know what it would be because I’d never used anything like it before. So it was mostly all wonderful. I did wish from the very start that I could mute the comments under the pics, though. I thought they interfered with the visual experience. For nearly two years Instagram was the first place I went after checking my e-mail in the morning. But the honeymoon is over now, I’m afraid. When Facebook bought the company, I knew I’d move on to something better eventually. (I’m a conscientious Facebook objector.) The concept started by Instagram has matured, and I’m in the process of switching to Starmatic, which is everything Instagram is and more. They’re still young and need a little time to get things set up so you can send your pics to Tumblr and so on. But I’m patient. I imported all my Instagram pics to Starmatic about a week ago. Bonus: in Starmatic the comments are behind the pictures! I’m planning to delete my Instagram account and create a new one — not to post pics, but just to keep following a few people (and one redbone coonhound) that I can’t live without (pics below).
Q: So what is the key to getting the most out of Instagram?
Sam: Two weeks ago I would have had a completely different response to this question, concerning privacy and security. But as far as the app goes, don’t follow everyone you know. You already see enough photos of cats and lunches on Facebook. Follow people who share things that move you. Follow what you find beautiful. Branch out, and make connections. And on your end, when you share, experiment, and play! Find a new way of expressing yourself! Record moments, objects, and places that are special to you, that touch you. Save your cat and lunch photos for Facebook . Be very sparing with these on Instagram. As far as your own privacy is concerned: buyer beware. Instagram (the company) seems to be a bit of a snake pit presently. Do a little googling, regularly, and choose your news sources wisely, in order to be sure that your photos truly do remain yours, and remain protected.
Pam: It takes time, but with apps like Instagram you can create your own little universe to suit your tastes and interests. I would search for places, like Hawaii and India, and then find people there to follow. I would look at the pics that the people I was following had liked, and I found new people to follow that way. I think I follow people in something like 60 different countries. I don’t put pictures of people I know on Instagram. It just seems too presumptuous (I put them on Path, if anywhere). And I don’t do many food pics. Nothing like waking up to somebody’s half-eaten lasagna picture at 6:30 in the morning thank you very much.