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Instagram: do your photos represent your life?

2013 April 4
by imperfectpages


I’m working on an assignment about Instagram and I’d be delighted if you’d spare a few minutes of your time to help me out.

My research question is: How accurately do the images that users share on Instagram represent their ‘real lives’?

To get me started, I was hoping that a few of you (those that use Instagram, ideally) would post some thoughts about the following issues:

Why do you post on Instagram?
Do you follow people you know offline, online? People you don’t know? How do you choose who to follow?
Are the photos that you post on Instagram different from those you post on Facebook or elsewhere? Are there some photos that you won’t share?
Is your profile private? Why/why not?
Do your photos represent your life? Some parts of your life?

I might not be asking the right questions here, so any other thoughts about Instagram and what you get out of it are also very welcome.

I’m hoping to conduct some interviews in the coming weeks, either face-to-face or online. If you’re interested in being involved, please let me know.

Many thanks!

(More background: I’m working on an assignment for my Fieldwork & Interpretation module; the main aim of the assignment is to critically analyse my choice of fieldwork methods to answer the research question. My MA is in Research Methods in Education, and the main element of the projects I work on is large scale quantitative analysis. The obvious choice might have been to do a survey about a topic in education, turning opinions into numbers and looking for some unambiguous facts. But I do enough of that in my day job (and my other modules), and I don’t like to always do the obvious. Besides, being taught by a ‘proper anthropologist’ has made me think that maybe the subjective, constructivist approach makes perfect sense after all.)

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. April 5, 2013

    I love Instagram because it makes me take more photographs than I once might have done. I think it helps me to appreciate the small pleasures in life and there’s something quite special about capturing a moment (how ever tiny) right there and then on your phone.
    I follow other people based purely on how much I like their photos and that means that I mostly don’t know them offline and it also means that I don’t necessarily follow the same people on Instagram as I do on Twitter for example. I also don’t tend to share my Instagram photos across my other social networks any more as for me, it has become quite a separate platform which I suppose isn’t very sociable of me!
    I’d like to think that my photos are a fair picture in my life but I suppose the reality is that they are probably more of the good than the bad but that isn’t because I ‘stage’ my photos that way, I’m just less likely to want to take photos of the not so good bits of life if that makes sense.

  2. April 6, 2013

    Hi Kirsty I use instagram a lot. Originally I joined because I liked the idea of making my photos look better using the filters, but then discovered a lovely community of like minded people. I follow mainly people who I don’t know in real life but who have similar interests like baking, the north east, food and travel. I do share my photos publicly and post a select few on Facebook. I don’t post them all as most friends on Facebook probably don’t want to see what I’m eating or baking but fellow instagrammers don’t seem to mind! :) good luck with your research hand hope that helped.

  3. April 9, 2013

    I began tweeting, why does anyone tweet, who needs to know your having breakfast?? who cares? I discovered instagram and found I prefer the visual share rather than trying to find words to convey an experience. No one needs to share photos of their lunch and yet it’s fascinating. I like sharing snippets of our lives, where we are, what we are doing. I am selective not everything goes on. I like the feedback, the simplicity of the ‘likes’ aspect.
    I mostly follow people I know on-line, less off-line, I do share the photos across twitter and sometimes FB. I guess it’s an extension of my on-line life which is separate to my off-line life.
    People you don’t know? How do you choose who to follow? My account is private and I accept followers based on if I ‘know’ them via twitter. I follow people mostly based on if I like their photos.
    The photos I post on Instagram are probably more detailed that I post elsewhere, although I often use Insta photos on my blog, I wouldn’t share on FB photos of my lunch or a cake but I frequently shove that on Instagram. I feel that’s what Instagram is about and that’s what other instagramers are sharing and interested in. Photos of cakes!!!
    I don’t share photos of friends children unless they are other bloggers who share their own kids photos on-line. I rarely share photos of friends unless I get their permission. I don’t share photos of my OH in which he is identifiable because he doesn’t do ‘on-line” Photos that are more personal and family orientated I don’t share. For example, I wouldn’t post photos of my son in the bath, I wouldn’t post photos that identified my house or address.
    My account is private because I post a lot of photos of my life and I like to have a bit of control over who sees it.
    Do your photos represent your life? Some parts of your life? I think the photos represent bits of my life, the exploring bits of places and visits, the likes bits; cakes and food.
    I don’t post boring photos of cleaning the bathroom! who does!. I like the relationships I develop via instagram, the contact I have with people that I don’t necessarily have elsewhere.
    I love how Mostly Yummy Mummy uses it, she shares such nice slices of life that really seem to hit a cord with people.

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