Instagram: nothing more than photo filters

Heather Kim, Writer


Attracting over 50 million users worldwide, the ultimate social-networking application Instagram has consistently dominated smartphone application stores since its debut on Oct. 2010. However, Instagram does not entirely fulfill its purpose of creating an intimate social network.

Instagram is a free, photo-sharing social network application where users can share photos with other followers. What the application is widely known for is the photo editing and sharing feature. Users can apply filters to go along with their photo and subsequently upload it to their news-feed for followers to view and respond to. Its popularity even caught the eyes of Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg who acquired the application for one-billion dollars on Apr. 2012.

Compared to its outgoing fame, Instagram is not my primary outlet for social communication. This is because it solely focuses on embellished photography, rather than social features. Since Instagram is supposed to be a social-networking application, I consider this unnecessary because I have seen many followers who use Instagram to merely brag about how magnificently their photos can be filtered and revamped. Thus, Instagram should preferably be known as the superior photo-editing application or a photographer’s outlet for showing off their photos rather than a social networking application.

As described in the application’s homepage, Instagram provides a “fast, beautiful and quirky way to share photos with friends and family.” Unfortunately, the application does not seem to offer effective social features; you are only allowed to comment, like, and share a photo to other social-networking sites. Since there is not much to do except write a comment and like others’ photos I am not enticed by Instagram and its limited features.

When I scroll down the news feed to see the latest photo updates from followers, I encounter unrecognizable and rather bizarre usernames that appear from posts, comments and likes. This issue frequently occurs among teenagers as they are known for using trendy words and manipulating usernames in various ways. As a result, it is often difficult for me to identify a follower through their username due to the fact that Instagram displays usernames instead of full names.

Due to Instagram’s lack of features, I prefer its top competitor, Path. Path sets a fine example of what a social-networking application needs to have in order to form vibrant, intimate relationships between users. Path is a free, social-networking application where people can effectively connect with their friends and relatives. It was released on Nov. 2010 and has attracted over 2 million people worldwide.

Unlike Instagram, Path offers many remarkable features to make social communication simple and enjoyable. It also includes similar but more efficient photo-editing features than Instagram. The photo filters both applications offer are relatively similar. in fact, you may not notice which application has filtered the photo. Furthermore, Path allows you to stay connected to other by updating friends and family with activities you are involved in.

What makes Path even more enjoyable is being able to respond to a friend’s activity by using the “5 emotion” feature which consists of five different emotions (smile, laugh, shock, frown, and love). Compared to Instagram’s “like” button, this feature allows you to respond to friends’ activities in a fun and relevant way.

While Instagram allows you to have more than one-thousand followers, Path limits the number to a reasonable 150. Path brings people together by forming intimate social communities. This restricted number makes socializing meaningful and effective, since your information is shared only among your closest friends. Unlike Instagram where anyone can follow you, Path requires you to confirm or reject a friend request from another user to prevent interacting with strangers.

Therefore, if you are looking for an intimate and diverting place to socialize with the closest of your friends, Path is the better application.

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