“Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia. I wanna look tan. What should my caption be? I want it to be clever…How about “Livin’ with my ladies, hash tag LIVE”. I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes. Do you think I should take it down? Let me take another selfie”. As the use of Instagram has grown within the past two years, it is safe to say that we, as users, have thought at least one of these sentences or something similar while uploading a picture. According to recent statistics, “Instagram is the tenth-largest application by reach. Moreover, it recently passed the 200 million user mark”. As a social media platform taking off with no intention of stopping, we are beginning to see how the personal and entrepreneurial use of Instagram is changing communication efforts today.
Think back to a celebratory event where phones didn’t have cameras and developing pictures happened at the local drug store. At that time we didn’t take pictures at every social outing, selfies were not common, and online photo sharing was nonexistent. As social media has evolved, the use of photo sharing and editing applications have changed the way that we view our “friends”, brands, and their lifestyles and products. According to Stella Ting-Toomey’s Face Negotiation Theory, “People from collectivistic cultures with an interdependent self-image are concerned with other-face or mutual face, so they adopt a conflict style of avoiding and integrating.” Through the use of Instagram, users are allowed to choose what photos they believe put them in the best light and can feature those photos on their profiles. Very rarely do you see users posting pictures with no make-up on, without a filter, or in a setting that doesn’t make their personal image look more appealing. Not only does this apply to individualized users, but is integrating into corporations, nonprofit organizations, and various other firm Instagram accounts that aim to reach a large amount of people. In putting their best “face” towards the public eye, the transparency of people and brands alike can be questioned through this platform.
As twenty first century communication moves from the written and spoken word to digital based visual communication, we will continue to see the communication effects of brands and individuals through their Instagram profiles. The way in which we communicate through these pictures is changing how we represent ourselves in the creation and cultivation of relationships. With the search for authenticity at an all-time high, showing ones “true self” is becoming more of an illusion than a reality on today’s Instagram feed. So what filter do you see your world through?
-Angelica DiPaolo, Morganne McIntyre, Anderson McNaull, Madeline O’Connor, Rachel White