Are we really who we say we are?
Sure we all have an Instagram, but is everyone using it for the same purpose? I created an Instagram account when I was a freshman in high school in order to keep up with my friend’s lives and to post pictures of myself, allowing my followers to stay updated with my own life. At the time, I only had interest in following people I actually knew, however, much has changed since then. Today, Instagram is a tool I use to keep up with pretty much everything happening in the world. Instagram users can follow a wide variety of accounts that all relay different information. Some of these include, news, food, travel, celebrities, style, home decor, exercise, and an abundance more. Many of the accounts I currently follow, I have no idea who runs them. I follow numerous accounts in order to stay informed with current happenings in the world, to stay up to date with my family and friends, and to view images of things that interest me.
Instagram is different from other social media sites, in that it allows you to stay constantly updated with a wide variety of people all at once. Instagram is a platform I now use much more regularly for the purpose of looking at other people’s images and staying informed with current events and news. I predominantly enjoy looking at my friends' and family’s accounts, but I also spend a lot of time viewing posts by people I don’t necessarily know, but that post images of travel destinations, tasty food, or simply things that interest me. I also appreciate when my friends and family post to their Instagram stories because I find the stories are very revealing of what is important and meaningful to people. For example, one girl I follow always post inspirational quotes on her story, which reveals to me that her Instagram is a place for her to inspire and motivate others.
We all have different purposes, and everyone's use of their social media account is unique. In my case, I do post images to my own account, but not nearly as regularly as the majority of other instagram users. When I do post, it is most likely a picture of either my family and I, or my friends and I. I like to post images for my own benefit. What I mean by this is that I personally don’t care how many likes or views I receive, I just like the idea that a few of my favorite pictures, that have real meaning to me, are organized on an account that I can always look back on. The images that I find meaningful are the ones with my family on special occasions that I wish to celebrate and remember. Currently, I have no pictures posted of me by myself. I believe this further reveals that I find the most memorable events in my life are the ones that I have experienced with others, my family in particular. In addition, I don’t allow people I don’t know to follow me, therefore my posts are meant to be shared with those who recognize and know me. This way my followers can see what is particularly meaningful to me through my posts.
One of my posts is of my two older sisters and I on the day of my high school graduation. In this image I am smiling with my two sisters beside me, as the brightness from the sun shines behind us. In this image we are all displaying our happiness and love for one another. My caption reads, “Couldn’t have made it through high school without my amazing sisters”. Personally, this caption holds a lot of meaning, because I had a rough time during my last two years of high school. I was way too focused on grades and I would overwork myself and cause an unhealthy amount of stress to boil up inside me. It was my sisters that constantly reminded me that there are more important things in life than grades, and that everything will be ok. Therefore, this picture that was taken right after my accomplishment of graduating high school and receiving my diploma, will always be in my memory. Both in my caption and image I use pathos to draw in my viewers. I want the viewer and reader of my post to feel how happy I felt in this image and how grateful I am for my sisters. My strong appreciation for them as I mentioned in my caption further gives the viewer an emotional yet happy feeling. In terms of ethos, I display my credibility by including my two sisters in the image. This way it actually shows my audience how important family is to me, and illustrates myself as a credible source for a family orientated individual. I also chose not to add any filters or edits to this image. I am less concerned with how good the picture looks and more excited about displaying myself as a proud sister on a very important day in my life, which further expresses how much I appreciate the support of my family.
Another one of my posts features my dad and I about to go out to dinner the day before I left for college. This was an unforgettable day, because I was incredibly excited and sad at the same time. I was excited to start my college journey, but also saddened by the fact that I would be leaving my close knit family, especially my dad. In this post, I further display an appeal to pathos through the image and caption. My caption, “gonna miss this guy & now especially concerned about who will catch the spiders and scary bugs in my room” gives the reader a bit of humor while also addressing the true emotions I was feeling. The viewer’s emotions are heightened by the fact that I am hugging my dad in the picture and speaking about how I will miss him. Hugs represent love and admiration, which is what I show through this picture. My use of pathos appeals to many of my followers, who at the time of my post were going through the same thing as they prepared to leave for college. In addition, I further add to my credibility of being a family centered person, due to the fact that I chose to post an image with my dad. I could have posted an image with all my friends or just of me at my graduation party in order to announce that I was leaving for college, but instead I wished to share an image of one of the most important things to me, family.
Through the social media platform of Instagram, I present myself to be a family oriented individual with strong connections to memorable events. I exhibit this by choosing to post images that are with people I truly care about and that are taken during significant moments. I further present my family focused persona by expressing my emotions about a certain image in my captions. My captions express my feelings in the moment the picture was taken and add emotion to my posts by getting more in depth about a certain image. The benefit of being intentional about my posts is that it allows me to express myself in a certain way to a large majority of people (my followers). By intentionally posting pictures of myself with people I feel are important during significant moments, I am able to show my viewers that family is genuinely important to me. This assignment has taught me that in terms of social media accounts, I am much more of a viewer than a user. I enjoy seeing other people’s posts and staying updated with my friends, family, and world events, rather than posting an abundance about myself. I have also noticed that the majority of my posts involve the use of the rhetorical appeal pathos. I rarely use logos, as I am not trying to persuade or advertise any products or corporations. I post for myself, to essentially keep an “online diary.” The insights I have gained by analyzing my social media account include, that I am less concerned with how many people I have following me, or how many likes my pictures receive, but rather with the meaning behind each picture and caption. I aspire to express to my audience that I am someone grateful for my family and the exciting moments happening in my life. I’ve become very aware that everyone’s use of a social media account is different, but that it is a place for us to express ourselves in a way that we wish others to see us as. Through a social media account, such as Instagram, users can essentially create whatever kind of persona they wish to display, and are able to form opinions about others by simply scrolling through posts. No matter what social media platform we choose to use to reveal ourselves, we all possess a significant purpose and meaning behind our posts.