Instagram: Fostering Talent or Fostering Self-Obsession?

Joyce An

Emma Havighorst '16

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The increased acceptance of photo-sharing apps and sites such as Instagram have spawned the debate over whether these apps create intelligent, talented teenagers, or self-absorbed teenagers.  Instagram and other photo-sharing applications and sites encourage teenagers to learn about new places and gain new perspectives on other cultures, develop their talents and interests, and share their work. It provides a positive environment for exploration, and for some, may even lead to business opportunities or expanded recognition.

In past decades, to gain new perspectives on the world we live in, you had to travel, go on adventures and explore. Current teenagers have the capability to explore the world in a more economically sound and safe way until they have financial means and time to physically travel the world. This isn’t to say that photo-sharing sites such as Instagram have diminished the drive to travel. In fact, if you search the hashtag “wanderlust” (a newly popularized term meaning a strong desire to travel), you would find pictures from international locations, from people’s trips, and from places they dream of going.

Just from the people I follow, I’ve seen and discovered new places such as Morocco, Ibiza, and Bali. I’ve visited quaint outdoor cafes in Paris, black sand beaches in Hawaii, exclusive clubs in Manhattan and sacred temples in India. Anyone has the ability follow jet-setting celebrities, college students on missions to study abroad everywhere, travel bloggers, or even their friend and visualize their travels all over the globe.

Alexandra Kyros ‘16, an avid instagrammer, admits that “you could say I live vicariously through others’ instagrams, admiring their glamourous travels and lives in foreign countries.” Discovering and exploring these new locations via photo-sharing sites initiates an internal desire to physically travel the world.

Luckily for those who participate in the Instagram community, there are so many opportunities to share your work, in whatever form it may be, and receive recognition for it. Photography, drawing, painting, fashion design, modeling, sculpture, writing, and graphic design can all be found on Instagram, and the majority of people involved in the Instagram community are supportive of other’s work and dreams.

Clare Halsey ’16 describes the artistic positivity perfectly, stating that the “Instagram community embraces all artistic talents, and that is why I’m a part of it. Instagram has provided incredible business opportunities for those that get their work out there.”

Many bloggers, photographers and other artists gain large followings just based off their Instagram feed, and that trickles over to their website/photos/art become more popular, in demand and recognized. For many, it can even draw recognition from major corporations and investors, and be the starting point for a largely beneficial collaboration or business deal. Not only is this a positive advancement for an artist’s career, but Instagram also may be the basis for something truly life changing.

It is true that some teens do use photo-sharing apps such as Instagram as a negative form of self-obsession, in which posting photos is driven by a need for attention and compliments. Some even use the site as a way to insult others and their work that they post. However, there is always an exception to the rule, and these people are the exception. The majority of teenagers use Instagram to expand their horizons, to share their work and to explore, not to get attention, insult others, or develop a deep self-obsession.

For those of us who use photo-sharing sites such as Instagram in the many positive ways we can, Instagram is a very important, possibly life-changing media. We learn more, we grow, we expand our horizons, and we improve every day.

Continue on with your scrolling, liking, commenting, sharing, and working. Who knows what places or opportunities it will lead you to?

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