Happy birthday Instagram! 5 ways doing it for the ‘gram has changed us



Unsplash/Adi Goldstein, CC BY

Tama Leaver, Curtin University; Crystal Abidin, Curtin University, and Tim Highfield, University of Sheffield

Tomorrow marks Instagram’s tenth birthday. Having amassed more than a billion active users worldwide, the app has changed radically in that decade. And it has changed us.

1. Instagram’s evolution

When it was launched on October 6, 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram was an iPhone-only app. The user could take photos (and only take photos — the app could not load existing images from the phone’s gallery) within a square frame. These could be shared, with an enhancing filter if desired. Other users could comment or like the images. That was it.

As we chronicle in our book, the platform has grown rapidly and been at the forefront of an increasingly visual social media landscape.

In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram for a deal worth a $US1 billion (A$1.4 billion), which in retrospect probably seems cheap. Instagram is now one of the most profitable jewels in the Facebook crown.

Instagram has integrated new features over time, but it did not invent all of them.

Instagram Stories, with more than half a billion daily users, was shamelessly borrowed from Snapchat in 2016. It allowed users to post 10-second content bites which disappear after 24 hours. The rivers of casual and intimate content (later integrated into Facebook) are widely considered to have revitalised the app.

Similarly, IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube’s longer-form video. And if the recently-released Reels isn’t a TikTok clone, we’re not sure what else it could be.




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2. Under the influencers

Instagram is largely responsible for the rapid professionalisation of the influencer industry. Insiders estimated the influencer industry would grow to US$9.7 billion (A$13.5 billion) in 2020, though COVID-19 has since taken a toll on this as with other sectors.

As early as in 2011, professional lifestyle bloggers throughout Southeast Asia were moving to Instagram, turning it into a brimming marketplace. They sold ad space via post captions and monetised selfies through sponsored products. Such vernacular commerce pre-dates Instagram’s Paid Partnership feature, which launched in late-2017.

Girl takes selfie on street
Behind the scenes snaps can enhance Insta-authenticity.
Unsplash/Afif Kusuma, CC BY

The use of images as a primary mode of communication, as opposed to the text-based modes of the blogging era, facilitated an explosion of aspiring influencers. The threshold for turning oneself into an online brand was dramatically lowered.

Instagrammers relied more on photography and their looks — enhanced by filters and editing built into the platform.

Soon, the “extremely professional and polished, the pretty, pristine, and picturesque” started to become boring. Finstagrams (“fake Instagram”) and secondary accounts proliferated and allowed influencers to display behind-the-scenes snippets and authenticity through calculated performances of amateurism.

3. Instabusiness as usual

As influencers commercialised Instagram captions and photos, those who had owned online shops turned hashtag streams into advertorial campaigns. They relied on the labour of followers to publicise their wares and amplify their reach.

Bigger businesses followed suit and so did advice from marketing experts for how best to “optimise” engagement.

In mid-2016, Instagram belatedly launched business accounts and tools, allowing companies easy access to back-end analytics. The introduction of the “swipeable carousel” of story content in early 2017 further expanded commercial opportunities for businesses by multiplying ad space per Instagram post. This year, in the tradition of Instagram corporatising user innovations, it announced Instagram Shops would allow businesses to sell products directly via a digital storefront. Users had previously done this via links.

Old polaroid camera.
The original Instagram logo paid tribute to the Polaroid aesthetic.
Unsplash/Josh Carter, CC BY



Read more:
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4. Sharenting

Instagram isn’t just where we tell the visual story of ourselves, but also where we co-create each other’s stories. Nowhere is this more evident than the way parents “sharent”, posting their children’s daily lives and milestones.

Many children’s Instagram presence begins before they are even born. Sharing ultrasound photos has become a standard way to announce a pregnancy. Over 1.5 million public Instagram posts are tagged #genderreveal.

Sharenting raises privacy questions: who owns a child’s image? Can children withdraw publishing permission later?

Sharenting entails handing over children’s data to Facebook as part of the larger realm of surveillance capitalism. A saying that emerged around the same time as Instagram was born still rings true: “When something online is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product”. We pay for Instagram’s “free” platform with our user data and our children’s data, too, when we share photos of them.

Couple holds ultrasound print out.
Many babies appear on Instagram before they are even born.
Meryl Spadaro/Unsplash, CC BY



Read more:
The real problem with posting about your kids online


5. Seeing through the frame

The apparent “Instagrammability” of a meal, a place, or an experience has seen the rise of numerous visual trends and tropes.

Short-lived Instagram Stories and disappearing Direct Messages add more spaces to express more things without the threat of permanence.




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The events of 2020 have shown our ways of seeing on Instagram reveal the possibilities and pitfalls of social media.

In June racial justice activism on #BlackoutTuesday, while extremely popular, also had the effect of swamping the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag with black squares.

Instagram is rife with disinformation and conspiracy theories which hijack the look and feel of authoritive content. The template of popular Instagram content can see familiar aesthetics weaponised to spread misinformation.

Ultimately, the last decade has seen Instagram become one of the main lenses through which we see the world, personally and politically. Users communicate and frame the lives they share with family, friends and the wider world.




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The Conversation


Tama Leaver, Associate Professor in Internet Studies, Curtin University; Crystal Abidin, Senior Research Fellow & ARC DECRA, Internet Studies, Curtin University, Curtin University, and Tim Highfield, Lecturer in Digital Media and Society, University of Sheffield

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Friday essay: COVID in ten photos


Chari Larsson, Griffith University

Our memories are malleable, they change over time. Memories can, however, crystallise through repetition. One of the most interesting things about memory is it is distinctly visual. With time, dramatic events reduce to a series of still images, which psychologists call “flashbulb memories”. Retrieving them is akin to rifling through a visual database.

The history of war photography offers many powerful examples of how memory and photographic images work together to symbolise entire events.

Consider one of the most famous news images from the Vietnam War, Nick Ut’s image of nine-year old Phan Thị Kim Phúc, badly burned and running down the road after a napalm attack. Or the Abu Ghraib photographs of prisoner abuse in the American military.

Viruses are distinctly anti-spectacular. They are invisible. We can, nevertheless, capture their impact. In 1990, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in America, Life magazine published an image of a dying man, David Kirby, surrounded by his anguished family. Therese Frare’s photograph was credited for humanising HIV and raising much needed awareness.

We are still in the early days of this pandemic. It is not too premature, however, to start writing its history through images. Here are some of the photos that captured the impact of COVID-19 in Australia.

The Ruby Princess stranded

Networks of globalisation, such as the tourism industry, helped spread the virus between countries. This image was taken from the Waverley Cemetery, in Sydney’s east in early April. Tightly framed by gravestones, the Ruby Princess cruise ship intersects with the strong blue of the horizon.

Sydney is reimagined as an ancient burial site, a necropolis, a city of the dead.

It is not unusual for cruise liners to sit off the city’s coast. This photograph is chilling, however because of the large cluster of COVID-19 infections linked to this ship. When Joel Carrett took this photograph, passengers had already disembarked, and health authorities were scrambling to control community transmission.

Sometimes, images are powerful because they have long historical links. Ships have historically been carriers of disease, treated suspiciously by coastal towns and ports.

During the height of the Black Death in the 14th century, the citizens of Venice realised infected persons were on ships and the best defence was isolation. The modern term quarantine is derived from the Italian quaranta giorni, the 40 days vessels were kept offshore.




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Bondi Beach crowds

We were still learning how to socially distance in March and adhere to the government’s advice to “stay at home” when images of beach-lovers making the most of Sydney’s glorious Indian summer went viral on social media.

The beach occupies a sacred place in our national psyche: a place of leisure and of freedom. What was ominous about this image, however, was the crowd’s ability to render a usually benign activity into a menacing threat.

Centrelink queue, Sydney

The most visceral signs of an economy in free fall came in late March with long queues of people waiting outside Centrelink offices across the country. As the myGov website collapsed under the strain, people were forced onto the streets, echoing scenes from Depression-era unemployment.

This photograph is cropped, leaving the viewer’s eye to run down the line of umbrellas, before pausing to rest on the woman in the yellow jumper and clear poncho. Her body language speaks of exasperation and frustration.

The image is taken at street level, a powerful levelling effect: the spectator joins the queue.

A crowd of men (and a horse)
Dole queue at Harold Park during the Great Depression, Sydney, 26 July 1932.
NLA

A very different strategy is at play in this 1932 image of the dole queue at Sydney’s Harold Park. Here, the photographer captures the group from an elevated position. This creates the effect of “hovering” above the queue like a bird. The spectator remains separate and apart from the crowd. The telegraph pole reinforces this division.

Panic buying, Coles supermarket

In March, supermarket shelves were emptying as Australians started panic buying essentials such as toilet paper, pasta and rice.

The idea of an image being active and capable of influencing our behaviour is underscored by photographs of empty supermarket shelves. Images such as these helped fuel further panic buying, reinforcing the misconception we were running out of food.




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In this image, the bare shelves retreat, drawing the spectator’s eye diagonally backwards towards the far wall. People wait patiently while maintaining a careful distance from each other. The spectator’s eye returns to rest with the central seated figure. His posture indicates fatigued resignation.

Panic buying is not unprecedented in Australia. During World War II, food and clothing rationing was introduced to control consumption and ensure equitable distribution of resources.

Black and white photo, people crowd a small shop.
People in Melbourne buying extra supplies of meat to try and beat rationing, photographed 14 January, 1944.
Australian War Memorial

This archival image shows people in Melbourne stocking up on meat in 1944 in advance of impending rationing. The small enclosed space feels claustrophobic as shoppers crowd in, waiting to be served.

Public housing towers lockdown, Melbourne

Physical distancing is a luxury not everyone can afford. COVID-19 thrives in dense living spaces, making visible class and race divisions. The early July lockdown of nine public housing towers in Melbourne was a blunt reminder the pandemic embeds itself in communities that house some of our most vulnerable. The towers were presented as crime scenes, sealed off with police tape.

David Crosling’s photograph is striking because of its distinct lack of people. The police tape occupies the immediate foreground, while the towers rise threateningly in the distance.

On closer inspection, a solitary figure can be detected in the left middle ground. The pathway leads the viewer’s eye straight to a COVID-19 testing tent. The site is registered as a crime scene; a barrier is placed between the spectator and the towers.

The absence of people became a foreboding sign of what was to come: Melbourne’s “hard lockdown”.

Empty Melbourne CBD

The atmosphere is bleak and unnerving. An empty city is a lonely city. A city needs its people. Today, the usually bustling alleyways in Melbourne’s CBD lie mute, waiting for the stage four restrictions to pass.

An eerie quality emerges when architectural landscapes are silent and empty. Usually an index of vitality, the street art in the foreground of the image is transformed, becoming a trace or relic of former human activity.

Images of Melbourne devoid of its people resonate with Eugène Atget’s photographs of the “old Paris”. Working at the turn of the 20th century, Atget focused on documenting the old, disappearing streets of Paris under pressure to modernise.

Brown-scale photo of an empty French street.
On the corner of rue de Seine and rue de l’Echaudé, photographed in 1924.
Eugène Atget/Wikimedia Commons

Writing in the 1930s, German philosopher and essayist Walter Benjamin observed Atget’s images were like deserted crime scenes “photographed for the purpose of establishing evidence”.

They demand a specific kind of approach; free-floating contemplation is not appropriate to them. They stir the viewer; he feels challenged by them in a new way.

A crime scene asks more from its spectator than just viewing passively. Instead, the spectator becomes a witness or bystander.




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Friday essay: the uncanny melancholy of empty photographs in the time of coronavirus


Face mask and face shield

As the virus asserts its grip, the face mask has now become a symbol of the next phase of our collective efforts to suppress COVID-19.

The practice of wearing a mask in the times of disease and pandemics has a long history. The medieval Latin word masca ominously means “spectre or nightmare”.

In the 17th century, plague doctors were recognised by their distinctive beak-like masks when attending sick patients, protecting the doctors from “bad air” and preventing contagion.

Centuries on, the basic premise of creating a barrier between the patient and the health workforce remains remarkably the same.

Temporary memorial, St Basil’s Homes for the Aged

Australia has avoided the rampant transmission and devastating loss of life seen in parts of Europe, the USA and Brazil. Our mortality rates, nevertheless, are steadily creeping upwards as the pandemic spreads, particularly in aged care facilities.

We haven’t seen images like the overflowing intensive care wards in Italy, or the drone footage of New York’s mass graves. For privacy and ethical reasons, photographs from inside aged care homes and intensive care wards are rare. Our understanding of the deaths is thus shaped by personal photographs of COVID-19’s victims released by their families or photos of the exteriors of aged care homes.

In late July, temporary memorials were set up outside one of the hardest hit facilities, St Basil’s Home for the Aged. Here, fences create a barrier between the photographer and the buildings. For the viewer, the physicality of lockdown is reinforced.

Healthcare workers in PPE

Frontline health workers in full personal protective equipment have largely become the face of COVID-19.

Widespread testing is proving crucial to controlling the pandemic. Here, healthcare workers are captured working at a drive through clinic. The camera’s lens is focused on the middle ground, with the staff rendered crisply in silhouette. Healthcare workers are our first and last line of defence against COVID-19.

There is unlikely to be one single photograph that comes to symbolise the pandemic. But it is possible to start reflecting on images that have been instrumental in shaping policy and debate.

These images serve as a chronicle of the disorientating early days of COVID-19 in Australia.The Conversation

Chari Larsson, Lecturer of art history, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Friday essay: the uncanny melancholy of empty photographs in the time of coronavirus


Cherine Fahd, University of Technology Sydney and Sara Oscar, University of Technology Sydney

Over the last few weeks, photographs in the news and on social media have documented our behaviour in response to COVID-19.

Panic buying of pasta, rice and, surprisingly, toilet paper is represented in empty shelf after empty shelf.

That’s not all that is empty.

Images of empty public spaces – from the streets of Ginza, to soccer stadiums, to the Venice canals, to lone masked travellers on buses, trains and trams – evoke a sense of apocalyptic films and the end of days.

Photographs of empty public spaces are increasingly filling our news feeds, documenting our response to a worldwide pandemic.

While these pictures point to a frightening situation, we can’t help being drawn into the otherworldly and unfamiliar scenes. They make us stop, look and linger as we try to comprehend what these places without people are saying.

Our attraction to images of the world without us reveals a collective fascination for the apocalypse or, perhaps, extinction.

Take the Instagram feed Beautiful Abandoned Places and its 1.2 million followers. These photographs show buildings in ruins or overgrown with weeds; old tourist sites now empty.

The images are “ruin porn”: when we take voyeuristic pleasure or delight in the sight of architectural decay or dilapidation.

The appeal comes from looking at a scene that could cause discomfort (or estrangement, or isolation) but doesn’t. The viewer is looking at a representation of the scene, not the scene itself, from a position of far-off comfort.

But another definition of ruin porn, a moral definition, is gaining pleasure from someone else’s failure, as seen through these architectural ruins.

Morally compromised as outsiders, we aestheticise a picture of another’s decline while looking away from factors that contribute to crisis.

The images in our current news feeds – despite what they say about coronavirus – offer similarly compelling visuals. We take delight in the formal composition of these images, which fall into tropes of the photographic picturesque.

The absence of people provides us with the ability to see into the distance with endless visual perspective. We feel as though we are alone in the landscape, a heroic adventurer.

Why is our absence from the world so fascinating to view in photographs?

In the early era of photography, anything moving would be rendered invisible, while architecture (or a corpse) was the perfect still subject. Take for instance Daguerre’s 1839 photograph of the Boulevard du Temple, Paris, a bustling city street.

Louis Daguerre’s Boulevard du Temple, photographed in 1839.

In this photograph, the street appears empty – with the exception of two figures who have stood still long enough to be captured by the exposure time required to portray the scene.

Photographs have always provided us with an alternative view of the world without us.

Contemporary fine art photographer Candida Höfer has made a successful career out of photographing large-scale empty spaces like public libraries, museums, theatres and cathedrals. Thomas Struth’s empty street photographs make German cities look like ghost towns.

These artists demonstrate a longstanding fascination with photographing architecture devoid of human subjects.

This fascination may be due to what architectural historian Anthony Vidler described as “the architectural uncanny”. Abandoned and deserted spaces, he said, make our familiar spaces become unfamiliar.

For Vidler, this estrangement from space hinges on visual representation such as in photography.

These photographs of empty public spaces capture a departure from our everyday and instead visualise this uncanniness: an alternative reality emptied of our presence.

The uncanny, wrote Vidler:

Would be sinister, disturbing, suspect, strange; it would be characterised better as “dread” than terror, deriving its force from its very inexplicability, its sense of lurking unease, rather than from any clearly defined source of fear – an uncomfortable sense of haunting rather than a present apparition.

While we hide away and quarantine ourselves indoors, the world outside is captured in the collective imaginary as eerily without us. What we thought we knew of public spaces is instead evoking the sensation of being alone in a haunted house.

In images where we expect to see hundreds or thousands of people, we find instead a few lonely figures presented to us by a single observer: the camera.

Pictorial urban life emptied of its citizens produces an assortment of emotional responses: estrangement, social alienation, melancholy.

The Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico captured this in his 1913 painting Melancholy of a Beautiful Day where an ominous figure stands alone in an empty town street accompanied only by his shadow and a Roman statue in the distance.

Made over a century ago, de Chirico’s painting surprisingly resonates with the photographs we are seeing in the news today. While it offers a historical example of the surrealist fascination with psychological dream states, it is also prescient of our current reality.

The images being captured by news photographers point to our fear of the pandemic and, fundamentally, of each other.

The photographs expose how swiftly we can become estranged from our everyday lives, how our surroundings can suddenly become something other – something fragile and tenuous.

The empty shelves, the empty restaurants, the grounded planes, the empty airports, the depopulated Mecca without worshippers, Trafalgar Square without tourists: these are all signals of the slowing of progress.

Photography is so good at capturing this because it is an unmediated mechanical eye that confronts our all-too-human eye. In these instances, the camera is able to be where we cannot be.

The mechanical eye is further exaggerated in the photographs which provide us with a distinctly nonhuman view of open, empty spaces.

Drone images give us an aerial perspective not readily available to the human eye. When viewed in the context of a global health crisis, there is no mistaking that we are – somewhat strangely – bearing witness to our own erasure.

We are accustomed to seeing images of crisis represented by fires, floods, bombs, warfare. The photographs we see as a result of COVID-19 are an emptying out and a slowing down.

This is a different sort of crisis, one that is mirrored in the uncertainty and slowing down of our financial markets and the need for government stimulus packages.

As cultural historian, Frederic Jameson said:

it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.

Perhaps this is precisely what these photographs are showing us: how the pandemic paradigm of “social distancing”, which isolates us physically from each other, disrupts and stops our lifestyles.

The pausing or end of our gathering in public, in airports and hotels, at tourist sites and sporting matches, in shopping malls, museums and bars, signals a rupture to the flow of everyday life.

Photographs of empty public spaces unmask the illusion that we are integral to existence. Even without a camera operator, optical technology will linger on and capture scenes of the world without presence.

Who can say whether that operator is human, or nonhuman, like a satellite from outer space that is still programmed to picture our buildings even if we aren’t in them? The Conversation

Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney and Sara Oscar, Lecturer in Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘This crisis has been unfolding for years’: 4 photos of Australia from space, before and after the bushfires



Use the slider tool in the images below to see before and after NASA satellite images of Australia’s fire and drought effects.
NASA

Molly Glassey, The Conversation; Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation, and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

Editor’s note: We pulled four before-and-after-images from NASA’s Worldview application, and asked bushfire researcher Grant Williamson to reflect on the story they tell. Here’s what he told us:


I’ve been studying fires for more than a decade. I use satellite data to try to understand the global and regional patterns in fire – what drives it and how it will shift in the future as our climate and land use patterns change.

When I look at these images I think: this is a crisis we have seen coming for years. It’s something I have been watching unfold.

Look at the sheer scale of it. Seeing this much fire in the landscape in such a broad area, seeing so much severe fire at once, this quantity and concentration of smoke – it is astonishing. I haven’t seen it like this before.

November 1, 2019 and January 3, 2020

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In this comparison, you can see November last year versus now. In the present picture (on the right hand side) you can see a vast quantity of intense fires currently burning right down the eastern seaboard and a huge amount of smoke. It’s been blowing out across toward New Zealand for weeks now.

The scale of the current fires is definitely unusual. In a typical year, you might see, for example, a large fire in the alps (near Mount Kosciuszko) or in the Blue Mountains – but they would be isolated events.

What’s striking here is that there is so much going on at once. I have never seen it like this before.

Black Saturday smoke, Feburary 8, 2009 and the 2019-2020 bushfires smoke, January 3, 2020

This one is comparing two smoke events: one from Black Saturday and one from the current fires. In both cases, huge quantities of smoke was released. Both times, the sort of forest burning is very dense, there is a lot of wet eucalypt forest here which naturally has a high fuel load and that’s creating all that smoke. This type of forest only burns during extreme weather conditions.

Simply due to the scale of it and the fact that it’s been going on so long, I would say the current event is worse than Black Saturday, in terms of the quantity of smoke.

East Australia, 10 years ago vs today

In this image, we can the impact of drought. A decade ago, on the left hand side, it was clearly quite green along eastern Australia. That green shows there is a lot of growing vegetation there: pasture crops, grasses and a very wet environment.

If you compare that to the current year, on the right hand side, you can see it’s now extremely brown and extremely dry. There’s not much in the way of vegetation. That’s a result of drought and high temperatures.

Kangaroo Island, 2 months ago vs today

In this image, you can see Kangaroo Island two months ago on the left hand side, versus today.

The main thing I note here is the drying. The “before” image is so much greener than the “after” image. So there’s a real lack of rainfall that’s driving fire severity in this area. You can really see how much the island has dried out.


This has been an extraordinary year for climate and weather, and that’s manifesting now in these unprecedented bushfires. It’s not over yet.

But what’s important is the lessons we draw from this crisis and doing as much as we can to reduce the risk in future.


Grant Williamson is a Tasmania-based researcher with the NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub.The Conversation

Molly Glassey, Digital Editor, The Conversation; Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling, The Conversation, and Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What’s not to like? Instagram’s trial to hide the number of ‘likes’ could save users’ self-esteem



Not enough likes? Not a nice feeling.
Shutterstock.com

Joanne Orlando, Western Sydney University

Instagram is running a social media experiment in Australia and elsewhere to see what happens when it hides the number of likes on photos and other posts.

If you have an Instagram account, you’ll get to see the numbers but your followers won’t – at least, not automatically. They will be able to click and see who liked your post, but will have to count the list of names themselves.

The trial is taking place right now in six countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Canada has just finished its trial.

It’s a bold move by Instagram, but arguably a necessary one. There is growing concern about the effect of social media on young people’s mental health and self–esteem.




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Instagram explained:

We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.

Likes, and their public tallying, have become the heart of Instagram and many other social media platforms. By hiding them, does Instagram risk devaluing a crucial currency?

Receiving loads of likes can feel like getting a gold star. It’s a public affirmation that you’re doing good work – a useful bit of quantitative feedback on your photographic skills or creativity. Under the new trial you’ll still get the gold star, but in private, and without broader recognition.

Nevertheless, the mental health repercussions of counting likes cannot be ignored. The design of social media promotes social comparison. You don’t have to spend long on Instagram to find a plethora of people who are evidently better-looking, more successful, and more glamorous than you.

As a result, young people can be left feeling inadequate and unworthy. Teens report that social media makes them feel closer to friends (78%), more informed (49%), and connected to family (42%). Yet many teens also report feeling pressure to always show the best versions of themselves (15%), overloaded with information (10%), overwhelmed (9%), or the dreaded “fear of missing out” (9%). These positive and negative reactions can see-saw, depending on a person’s particular mindset at the time.

Will comments become the new likes?

Without a public tally of likes, it is likely that comments will become an even stronger indicator of how people are interacting with a particular Instagram post.

Of course, comments can consist of anything from an emoji to an essay, and are therefore much more varied and adaptable than likes. Yet they can still affect users’ emotions and self-worth, particularly because (unlike likes), comments can be negative as well as positive.




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The reaction among Australian Instagram users has so far been mixed. Many are disgruntled about the change, feel manipulated by the platform, and argue that the change will reduce Instagram’s appeal, particularly among those who use it to support their business.

But others have applauded the move on mental health grounds, while others still have reported that they are already feeling the difference that the experiment is designed to deliver.

Nevertheless, people could potentially move away from Instagram if they don’t feel it benefits them in the way they want. This could conceivably leave the market open for new social media platforms that unabashedly count likes for all to see.

Finally, there is the question of whether this is nothing but a PR stunt by a global mega-brand.

It’s perhaps natural to be sceptical where the social media industry is concerned. But if this is a genuine move by Instagram to ameliorate the negative mental health effects of social media, then it’s a valuable experiment, and the results may be very beneficial for some. Let’s hope so.The Conversation

Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Children and Technology, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Living with Ebola


The link below is to an article (with photos) that looks at what life is like living with Ebola in West Africa.

For more visit:
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/bigpicture/2014/10/08/living-with-ebola-west-africa/vTCGB1bQTSbQitjUkSsTWI/story.html

Iraq Through the Lens


The link below is to an article that looks at the current situation in Iraq through the camera lens – well worth a look.

For more visit:
http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2014/a-lens-to-the-front/

Australia: NSW – Bushfire Blog


The link below is to a link on the Guardian Australia website which contains a rolling Blog of the bushfire crisis in NSW.

For more visit:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/17/bushfires-rage-in-nsw-as-emergency-warnings-issued-live-blog

The link below is to a photo gallery of the bushfires in NSW.

For more visit:
http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1847953/mega-gallery-the-nsw-bushfires/