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Open letter to Instagram users: stop it, right now

Instagram has risen in popularity since its launch, but as more teens flock to the photo sharing site, behaviors are changing for the worse. We must insist that certain behaviors cease immediately.



All hail the Instagram

It’s no secret that I love Instagram, and if you follow my personal account, you know my life is filled with domestic animals, foods, fabrics, travel, and shopping. You also know that since I finally caved and gave in to the almighty Instagram, that I use the photo sharing community every day and it feels a lot like Twitter in 2009 in that it is more private, smaller, and more intimate, but the network is experiencing rapid growth, even though it has been around for nearly three years, timed perfectly with the rise of the visual web.

We opined a while back that teens are leaving Facebook for Instagram for two primary reasons: laziness (preference of pictures over reading actual words), and privacy (their parents are now on Facebook, not Instagram). Because of this, much of the culture of Instagram is shifting toward teen behavior, and today we must insist that teen behavior be left to the kids.

What Instagram users must stop doing immediately

What is most appealing to Instagram is that each image is expected to be a photo taken by that specific person at the location and timestamp on the actual upload. What we must insist Instagram users stop doing is cheating. What do we mean by that?

First, we beg Instagram users as a whole to stop changing their location, even though Instagram lets you fudge the GPS and say you’re in Paris or at a club downtown.

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Second, we beg Instagram users to stop finding pictures on the internet and sharing them – the joy of the community is that we’re all sharing pictures in real time of what we’re seeing and experiencing, and showing the unique nature of each of our lives.

Third, we beg Instagram users to stop acting like teens and posting funny quotes and internet memes on Instagram. Show us your neighborhood, your office, what you’re doing this afternoon, or anything that gives us insight into your life, rather than pandering for likes and follows by posting memes and unoriginal works – keep it original. It sounds cliche, but we must insist.

If these three things cease immediately, Instagram will be a better place for it, and maybe we will all be able to eek an extra year or two of utility out of the photo sharing community before it turns into MySpace circa 2010.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. LesleyWeberLambert

    December 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Amen.  I HATE the internet memes and stolen images.  No fun.  Boo.

    • AGBeat

      December 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

      @LesleyWeberLambert right? I see them and think, “gee, THAT is what you’re doing right now? I find it hard to believe you’re actually holding Tard the Grumpy Cat at this moment and he has letters hovering over him…”  -Lani

  2. ToddWaller

    December 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Because I was asked to,

  3. beachtowne

    December 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

    A counterpoint: As a “digital native” Lani, I think you’re overlooking the very nature of the internet. Instagram was “built” by kids, and is still mostly dominated by kids. They don’t care what you think, anymore than the kids on 4chan do. You kind of sound like a senior citizen complaining about “the music, which is just noise.”
    I don’t do Instagram, but I am active on twitter and I find the memes/4chan/hax0r/anon/lolcats/bronies/1337 subcultures fascinating, and fun to learn about and observe.
    Kids on Instagram enjoy sharing things that they have found and enjoy, how is that so different than older people sharing pictures of their meals, travel and shopping? In case you have not noticed, most kids out there can’t afford fine dining, travel or high end shopping. And most of them consider this behavior to be passe and gauche. They may be on to something.

    • bobwilson

      December 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      @beachtowne spot on. described my kid’s actions and mindset to a tee.

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