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November 5, 2014

I remember the first time I was appraised of the wonder that is Instagram. The Creative Director was giving me a lift to LIDL one lunchtime (that’s how we roll round here) and he showed me what it was all about. I remember thinking ‘wow, that looks exciting,’ and immediately taking lots of rubbish pictures and posting them online. A short time later, I was then schooled in the art of hash-tagging, and, for the next few months, set about the process of desperately trying to get as many likes as possible (and, dare I say it, followers too) for my range of photographic offerings. In short, you could say that I was into Instagram.

Fast forward a couple of years, and a notification appears on my phone – something to do with Facebook friends of mine finally getting around to joining Instagram. In the past, I’d have been straight on there, following them in the hope that they would reciprocate. However, I have to be honest, the notification left me cold.

You see, I honestly used to think of Instagram as a really fun app; something that encouraged me to take ‘interesting’ pictures and share them with the world. I also kind of enjoyed trying to drum up likes. It was a challenge. It was also a genuine kind of reward when a complete stranger took time out of their day to not only look at a photo of mine, but actually give it a plaudit too.

So what happened? Boredom? Perhaps – much in the same way as I have now finally given Candy Crush Saga the elbow after months of sweetie-exploding addiction. But mainly actually just disinterest – particularly when I finally realised that, no matter how many hashtags I added to my pictures (#picoftheday, #masterpics, #instagrammers, etc.) I would never get more than a handful of likes from the social media community. The fact is, whatever the intentions of the Instagram developers when it first came out, it is now all about selfies – not engaging, original photographic content.

Maybe I’m expecting too much from it, and maybe I’m taking the whole thing too seriously. Maybe it’s not about likes at all but just about sharing pictures and that’s it. If you get 1,000 likes, great. If you get two or three, who cares? The trouble is, I do care – but no amount of strategically-constructed hashtags are going to make me popular.

by Dave Washer