Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I love Instagram

I've enjoyed social networking platforms. I'm on Facebook, but seldom post. I have a Twitter account and I've been known to tweet, but I am more likely to re-tweet. I am on Google + but I don't have the hang of it. I obviously blog and I enjoy it a lot, but it takes quite a bit of time. Besides blogging, nothing else has really captured my imagination until Instagram.

It is as if I've been struck by lightning.

I am going to be a shameless advocate here, so please forgive me.

I am one of those people who lives inside my head a lot. I love solitary things--like walking, hiking, reading, writing, (napping), and driving. This rather strong need for solitude can be hard to explain. I love to do those things because it is then that I feel in tune with my surroundings. I notice things and I find many of the things I see moving, rejuvenating and inspiring. Then I want to share those discoveries with people I love.

My very first memory is of the side steps on our house. There were several brick steps and on every other one was a large rectangular (at least 4 feet long) planter of red geraniums. They led to lovely french doors that we didn't use and that were purely decorative.  I would lay down on the step next to the planter and hide. From this position I could look up at the flowers and see them framed against the blue sky and be alone. To this day I love the sharp sent of geraniums and the sky through green leaves.

Instagram captures moments like these for me and then allows me to share them.

Instagram also makes me think of Impressionists. I looked up the definition of Impressionists online and here is what I found (I highlighted what I am talking about in blue):

"impressionism [ɪmˈprɛʃəˌnɪzəm] n 

1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Movements) (often capital) a movement in French painting, developed in the 1870s chiefly by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley, having the aim of objectively recording experience by a system of fleeting impressions, esp of natural light effects
2. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) the technique in art, literature, or music of conveying experience by capturing fleeting impressions of reality or of mood
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
The beauty of a face just waiting for a subway
I look at Instagram as the whole world recording fleeting moments. Stopping time for just a second and recording what they found interesting, moving, compelling, funny or sometimes just snapping a picture because they were bored.

I find so much beauty in the world. It is what makes life worthwhile to me. The small snatches of beauty that pack every single day. The times that transcend driving carpool or washing dishes. The living in-between.

Instagram also helps me feel connected to other people. I love seeing what my niece has her daughters wear to church. I want to see what family members are eating, where they are going and what they find beautiful.

Another one of my favorite things about Instagram is finding people in other cultures who love the things I do. Who love architecture, landscape, faces and flowers.

The very moment the sun makes something utilitarian beautiful.
I feel connected in ways I didn't think possible. I also feel like the whole world is being documented second by second and then it's gone and the new second is upon us. It's a futile and beautiful documentation of the ephemeral.

The perfect watermelon.
For example, one day I took a picture of the sun and then posted it with hashtag (#) sun. I then looked up on Instagram all the pictures with the #sun. My picture was already buried under 50 or more pictures of the sun--from all over the world.   That's it--it's filed in some digital obscurity.

Of course on Instagram you have followers and people you follow. There is also the possibility of going on Instacanvas to sell your pictures. It's satisfying to connect with people and have them get what you are trying to do--but it isn't why I do it. I do it to just have the ability to capture and share a moment I found inspiring.

The apex of a college career.

Favorite hamburger ever (Toast NYC).

Something grand, like the flowers at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. 

Something unpredictable like petal-less black-eyed susans marching along the trail. 

The weirdness of the mundane in a mass planting of marigolds in my yard.

The grandeur of my favorite mountain, Mount Olympus, in April.

The simple perfection of a Hollyhock as it blooms.