Instagram Lives

instagram dogMy friend excitedly pointed to her phone and said, “I want to show you something. I finally figured out how to take great family photos. I said to my kids,’ Hey how about some Instagram shots?’ They immediately started posing and look what I got!” I perused her snaps and was impressed by the artsy, fun-loving photos.

Whenever I ask my family to pose for pictures I am immediately greeted with grumblings of “Oh, mom.” This is often followed by half-smiley annoying grimaces as I try to capture the “precious moments” of our time together. My friend had clearly developed a great mom-trick for getting reluctant teens to actually enjoy taking photos. Photo-messaging also works great for getting real-time responses.cousins berkeley instagram

To wit, just think about the migration of communication in the last few years from the dinosaur era of full-sentence emails to cryptic texting. If you have teens in your lives you know that you will get an immediate reply to a text, but will grow old waiting for a return phone call or email. If you really want a quick reaction, just post a picture. I experimented once with a family member after I got the “silent treatment” from a text and received a reply, “???” If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a question mark worth 500?

While the meaning of life may not be explained through this lens, it did make me ponder the actual user stats for the top social media sites and how our conversations have changed.

Facebook has over 600 million daily users while Twitter has 200 million active users. Our own WordPress host has 74 million blogs. Apparently, we at Permission Slips aren’t the only ones with something to say. However, these impressive numbers are now being dwarfed by the visual communication world. YouTube has 1 billion users with 4 billion views each day. Instagram, launched in October 2010 and recently bought by Facebook, has 100 million active monthly users with 40 million pictures posted daily! No wonder Facebook paid $1 billion for the 18-month-old company in April 2012. Just thinking about this makes me to want to “check-out” not “check-in” on Facebook.instagram sunset

While Pinterest seemed to start with great momentum it may be sputtering with its relatively modest 48.7 million users simply because it is too time consuming to cull through information. It’s so much easier to let others do the legwork and just “Like” something. Facebook has 2.7 million Likes per day and Instagram has 8,500 Likes per second according to Craig Smith, Digital Market Ramblings.

I have a file folder filled with long-hand letters written and received nesting with old “Kodachrome” snapshots. They not only provide great trips down memory lane, but serve as great insight into my younger self and relationships. While I mourn that my kids won’t have this file folder in their drawer, I am trying hard not to be judgmental about how my family communicates with each other. As long as we are communicating in some way, does it really matter how?  For now, I will make peace and look at this as a way to create more choices for my holiday card montage. No more grumpy gatherings of last-chance-before-the-holiday photos. Count me in as the most recent person to download the Instagram app. At least I was 3.8 seconds ago.

Carol Lewis Gullstad

April 22, 2103


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