Instagram Posts, TBTs and Selfies, Oh My!

By Sophia Orlander on November 12, 2013

I think we can all agree that Instagram is a fairly new technology whose importance has begun to rival even Facebook. While Facebook has played an integral part of our lives since 2006, this holy grail of photography-social application that is ?Insta? has only been around for a little over a year. Within this small timeframe, we, as users, have established a very rigid, yet widely understood set of unspoken rules that dictate the way we all use Instagram. ?I want to discuss four very distinct ways in which Instagram etiquette has manifested and evolved.

1. Posts

Firstly, if you were wondering, yes, there is an appropriate number of photos to post per week. Shamefully, when I initially downloaded Instagram I didn?t quite understand this concept. I would add five-to-ten pictures at a time?can you believe that? How embarrassing and na?ve I was! Obviously I quickly learned that this behavior wasn?t ?kosher? once I lost a few followers (ouch). As a socially aware millennial, it?is now clear that one-to-two posts per week is acceptable. One doesn?t want to overwhelm their followers by bombarding them with too many photos. It is ideal to keep your followers engaged, yet retain some level of mysteriousness whilst not appearing annoying. Users must be careful not to upset this delicate balance or you?ll get an ?unfollow,” which is like?dare I say it?Instagram suicide.

2. Selfies

Perhaps the most controversial Instagram convention is the ?selfie.” I fervently believe Apple is single-handedly responsible for the revival of selfies after releasing the iPhone 4. This device has a camera conveniently located on the front of the phone, which enables users to take selfies with ease. Apple, you made it too effortless and we happily fell into your trap. So this brings me to my next point: Through the evolution of Instagram etiquette, has it become socially acceptable to post selfies? This complicated question is entirely subjective. I, for one, think that selfies must be posted rarely, if at all. Through the ideological discourse of photographs taken by the self, of the self, it has become increasingly more standard to post such photos. I, myself, prefer selfies accompanied by others because the quality of the image is relatively low, making most imperfections unnoticeable. Selfies are making a comeback and, like my peers, I?m more than ecstatic about it. Plus, if a puppy or kitten is in the picture with you, it?s obviously OK; however, I highly recommend keeping selfies of solely yourself to a minimum?or, to be safe, just refrain entirely. Just a thought.

3. Ratio

The ?ratio? is an aspect of this application exclusively unique to Instagram. Today?s Instagramming society is all about the ?follower to following? ratio. In order to prove one?s cyber popularity it is known that a user must have a ?good? ratio. For example, Beyonc? has 7.3 million followers and follows a whopping zero people in return. If you ask me, that?s just?rude. Nevertheless, Instagram has evolved into a system that highlights a person?s degree of interest. If you are interesting, people will follow you regardless if you follow them. And this, my friends, is how a good ratio is born.

4. #TBT

Throw back Thursdays, also known as ?TBT.” This multifaceted hashtag has swept our nation once a week, without fail. I?ve observed that people have the tendency to take two different paths regarding this trend. On one hand, users post adorable baby pictures. More controversially, Instagrammers will post a sexy picture from recent years that users secretly–but not so secretly –want to resurface on the web because they look ?hot.?

Note that during Thanksgiving and Christmas break there will be an influx of TBT photos as college students return home and whip out the photo albums. And thank god because everyone is definitely anxiously waiting to see how cute you were at age three, or how sexy you looked last Halloween (guilty). Plus, how else would I be informed that it?s Thursday?

Instagram users have proved to be an incredibly adaptable group that has the ability to collectively conform to certain codes of behavior as outlined by the users themselves. Instagram etiquette is a changing entity that morphs and transforms every moment, yet users manage to follow a few distinctive social cues. If anything, it?s comical to see what we do decide is acceptable. While I might deem selfies deplorable today, who knows what I?ll think in a month or so. With that being said, don?t be surprised if my face pops up on your minified in the near future. Don?t say I didn?t warn you. #Peaceout #Thanks4Reading

I'm an English Major at the University of Michigan and I'm from Westchester, NY. I have a twin sister who goes to Washu, Go Bears!. When I graduate in May 2014, I plan to move to the Big Apple. I'm an avid TV watcher, can't resist HBO and Showtime. Also, The Walking Dead on AMC is my new favorite show. If you're still reading this stop immediately and go watch it on Netflix! You're welcome.

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