I Finally Figured Out Why You Like Instagram So Much

You’ve seen the Instagr.am photos, yes? They’re everywhere. It’s some stupid iPhone app that lets you ruin your pictures. You can take a perfectly good photo and turn it into something that was left sitting out in the sun for a week. Yay.

People love this stupid thing. People I like love this stupid thing. People I respect love this stupid thing. Professional photographers, enthusiastic amateurs, drive-by snappers, they all love having the ability to wash out their pictures with one of the many filters Instagr.am offers. At first I just didn’t get it. Then I thought “Maybe it’s just the hipsters.” Why the hipsters? Why not. Hipsters suck.

But it’s not just the hipsters. It’s everyone. And the reason it’s everyone is that everyone has a very, very mistaken idea about the look they are obtaining.

Instagr.am photo filters let you turn excellent representations of the world around you into things that resemble the pictures that were in the photo albums you had when you were a kid, or the iconic images of  a revolutionary world. You associate the look of those old photos with family, love, and history. The old Polaroids speak to 5 year old you and say “The world used to be nothing but Christmas mornings and summer evenings, playing on the grass.” They speak to your 20 year old pomposity and say “People used to be so much more intellectual in the 60’s and 70’s. Remember ‘Blow Up’? Now that was film-making. Where are all the turtlenecks now?” So now, when you filter with the Instagr.am app you shortcut your way to all of those feelings. Instagr.am counts on it. They count on your willingness to actually modify your current presentation of the world so that it seems imbued with all of the family, love, and history that came with taking a picture with a really shitty camera and leaving it to rot for a while because your parents were busy making dinner and couldn’t always move the photos from the box-o’-photos into actual albums. They count on your willingness to actually reject the world around you in favour of the past, because you remember that in the past you had no cares, and the adults who had all the cares seemed to do so much more with their time and energy, walking on the moon and protesting segregation.

I know, I know. Photos are all lies, in a way. Nothing captures the world as it is, everything is filtered, blah blah blah. Instagr.am is worse than choosing where to focus. Suck it, hipster.

This is an easy world to want to reject: it’s full of weirdness and violence and boredom and responsibility. But it’s also genuine. It’s as genuine to you as the world was to the people taking pictures of it thirty years ago, when you were little and the center of it. Why don’t we all just drink it in a little? Take a picture with some god damned colour in it. Roses are red, violets are blue, I hate Instagr.am and you should too.

145 thoughts on “I Finally Figured Out Why You Like Instagram So Much”

  1. Hey! I don't ALWAYS use filters on instagram! I enjoy it for the (smaller) community and being able to share a photo from time to time apart from FB & twitter! But yeah, I know what you're saying. Still, I'm in for instagram.


    1. I don’t know what kind of photos you or your friends take but when I created a account, most of the time the famous photos were girls taking picture of themselfs (sometimes with shitty effects) or of their fucking food, or of their makeup routines (which is REALLY annoying). Really? This is a really crappy app. And that mustache thing is shitty too, it’s in general for people who want to be underground…Sorry for my bad english?

  2. You can't make me hate instagram. YOU CAN'T. I suck at taking photos with my phone, but with instagram, my suck is equal with everyone else's suck.

    Also, I'm strangely addicted to the social aspect of it. It's like twitter, but with more photos and less words.

      1. Wow I randomly stumbled onto this site, but I like you already dudeman. If my dreams come true and there is hipster holocaust in the next few years, I know I want you by my side, axe in hand!

  3. i am an instagramming fool. i am totally okay with the filters! or not. it really isn't about the processing. i have instagram friends all over the world. you cannot deny the coolness of watching a friend in berlin and a friend in japan and a friend in london all living the same day on earth.

  4. Oh, Shawn. I like you, I do, but this is totally a GET OFF MY LAWN post.

    I use Instagram for the community. It's like Flickr was back in the day (2006, if we're quoting years being on Flickr) where people looked at each others' photos and commented and favorited and whatnot.

    If I'm going to "twitpic" a photo anyway, I use Instagram. I often get more feedback on an Instagram photo than on a post. True story.

    And as for filters, i don't always use them (see my last Instagram photo).

    You're missing out on a whole lot of fun and community, is what I'm saying.

  5. Noo! You're missing the point. It's not all about the filters. What Stephanie said – it's the community aspect. It's better than twitter. It's like a little snapshot into everyone's lives. (I mean, yes, that literally is what it is, but metaphorically, too.)

    I double dog dare you to really join and participate for a week. You'll be hooked like the rest of us. And you can post all your family pictures naked.

    (And by naked I mean without using their filters. However . . .)

  6. I like Instagram because the iPhone has a really shitty camera. So you take a photo, and it looks like a photo taken with a really bad mobile phone camera.

    But then you add the filter, and everybody is fooled into believing that you took your photo with a camera from 1980. Then it looks bad for all the right reasons.

        1.  Here’s an idea:  go buy a film camera from 1980 and take real photograph that looks like a real photograph!

    1. Nobody thinks you took that photo with an actual camera because of the fact that its on Instagram. Everyone knows you took it with a smartphone.

      1. That’s nonsense, Didier. Everybody knows that most photos on the Internet are taken with inexpensive film camera built 30 years ago.

        What planet are you from?

  7. Um, I'm with Shawn. I hate to say it, but… it's true. If crappy looking photos were really "in", then we wouldn't have the excellent cameras and HD gadgets that we have now. Logic.

  8. I like it for quick sharing … And I actually use regular more than filters, since the pic is usually good enough without. ;)

    And I'm pretty sure hipster is not a word that would ever be used to describe me!!

    1. LOL. I did like the nostalgic look at first. Then I realized I liked my pics better without filters. The end. OH, wait. HIPSTERS GET OFF MY LAWN.

      The end.

  9. Wow. I'm surprised at your enthusiastic hatred of this insta-thing. I don't use it personally, but I do like messing with photos in a sepia-stic way at times, just for the 'ell of it.

    You made a bit of a jump of logic there in the middle I'm not sure applies to every person who messes with their photos.  Just because it reminds people of good times when they were all childy doesn't necessarily mean those same people mistakingly think that "then" was awesome and "now" is not.  

    It's more like listening to an old song and remembering an old girlfriend or camping trip or holiday with the family from when you were a child.  It's comforting and not necessarily naiveté or lack of perspective.

    Just a thought.



  10. Instagram gets my dander up, too. Everything about it is so contrived and inauthentic, and the pictures, no matter how yellowed-out and shitty they look, never really succeed in evoking an earlier, more innocent era. Instead, they just end up looking anachronistic and, above all, bad. Pop Rocks are the stuff of nostalgia. Instagram is the stuff of ingenious marketing designed, as you suggested, to conjure up feelings of youth and comfort among people of a certain age. It's The Wonder Years of photography.

  11. You are totally right about this shit called Instagram.Now everyone call themselves photographers JAJAJAJAJAJ.Hipster aplication is the right word for this. All the photos are the same you can watch 100 instagram photos and you are looking the same thing.

  12.  instagram is leading to people trying to pass off mediocre photography as something amazing, take a photo of anything, eg a lamp add a filter and suddenly that dull lamp photo is something to show off (to your hipster friends)

  13. nice article. I’m reading through the replies and I’m seeing a lot of people trying to defend it for the social aspect of it all and also saying they don’t always use filters. In my personnel exp. I rarely see an instagram pic that doesn’t have a filter applied and if the soc aspect of it is so awesome, then I recommend using Flickr which isn’t limited to just iPhone users.

    1. I can only assume you feel equally furious about photoshopped “beauty”, used to undermine peoples self worth, in advertising.

  14. This article’s great, by the way. I hated Instagram and all this phony vintage crap turning everything into grainy blue hipster garbage, but I managed to ignore it.

    Then my favorite hockey team used it on their Facebook photo. That was the last straw.

  15. I shared this with a few friends. Thought you’d appreciated this comment from one of my friends. ” Instagram, blah, blah, hipster, blah, blah. Backpacking Dad is hot!”

  16. You truly articulated my feelings about instagram.  Now they are coming out with an app for android phones, now they have 27 million registered users.  Now the world will be even more littered with shitty ass photos made to look old or “antique”.  If they really want their photos to look that way spend the money and buy polaroid film off ebay, the cameras are cheap…

  17. You wrote my exact feelings for instagram. I get so irritated when friends on Facebook litter my news feed with stupid photos of their latest Starbucks orders, food they have eaten, countless sunrises/sunsets, and whatever junk they feel the need to take pictures of to persuade others to see that “my life is so awesome and my photos look so cool!”    

  18. I agree with you.  I’m a photographer, I use only film, and I see so much over PS’sd photos on IG.  Yes, it’s social, it’s replaced FB as the new booty call thing to do.  It’s not about photos or composition anymore, it’s all about who is the hottest user.  

  19. You don’t have to use the filters in Instagram, you know. I don’t. I use it to send photos to Twitter and FB that I took with other apps, because the filters on Instagram are terrible for most pictures.

  20. I searched for “instagram is stupid” and found this. Awesome. I agree completely. The old photos looked like that cause people sucked at taking pictures. Not cause they were trying to be cool. Now it is a combination of people not being able to take pictures or in fact taking pictures of stupid shit and then trying to make themselves seem cool for doing it.

    I also like the “you’re old if you don’t like instagram” defense. Its very fitting.

    Instagram can eat my non filtered ass.

    1.  I googled for the very same thing :-D , because I couldn’t understand why people were so crazy about it and whether I am the only one, who really thinks, it’s dumbass app that’s good for nothing. Nice to see I am not the only one

  21. Lmao Instagram is useless as fuck. Using it for filters is retarded because honestly theres a million other apps/website that can do it and im sure facebook and twitter can do everything instagram does, minus the retarded filters.

  22. God, I’ve been waiting for someone to say this. I’m so goddamn sick and tired of seeing Instagram photos on my Twitter feed, my Facebook page, my Tumblr. Here’s the thing: Instagram photos, when they use the filters? Pretty much look like crap 100% of the time. Even if you’re just an amateur, WHY would you want your photos to look like crap? If your photos aren’t great to start with, they’re only gonna look worse with Instagram.

    Learn how to take photos, stop using Instagram, and GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN!

    1. Because if you use a tool that makes ALL photos look like crap, you can mask your legitimately crappy and boring photography skills behind said tool. “Yeah, my photo sucks…IRONICALLY!”.

      Hipsterism has become synonymous with making deficiencies cool…a means of self denial. In a way it’s the grunge-era all over again, just without the redeeming qualities.

  23. I’ve never liked filters, I don’t have 8mp camera just to apply a filter on it and lose all the quality, but you can always not use filters so that’s not the reason I think instagram is crap. Now that’s come to android, I instaled Instagram to test it out and then wanted to test it with this picture https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-3e5NDv3aeRs/Twdd2dDwl-I/AAAAAAAAEZw/4qvGjmKL2NQ/s1600/CameraZOOM-20120104111605026.JPG . It’s a beautiful 1600×1000 (aprox) picture I took with my phone while I was on vacation in NYC. When I tried to post it, instagram told me I had to crop it. In a square shape.
    And then I unisntalled the app. If I post a picture I want to post the WHOLE picture, not just a fraction of it.

  24. I completely agree with you, backpackingdad. Instagram is a horrible tool. I think most people just use it to cover up their failure to make a decent photo nowadays. With this Instagram nonsense, they don’t have to think about the lightning, composition, etc etc, because in their perception, it all looks cool, hip, artistic, as long as the picture is taken with this BS app. It has nothing to do with photography in my opinion. It’s like photo-raping.

  25. I totally agree, is for lazy fucks who don’t want to bother with the real thing, they thing they’re so artsy by taking pictures of their cereal and applying a vintage filter. 

  26. Just to put this into perspective for you all. MySQL was sold to Sun Microsystems in 2008 for $1 Billion. Relational database technology running half the web with revenue from contracts vs photo filter phone app.

  27. This is funny because if you use a camera from let’s say the 1980’s it looks x50 better than the pictures you take with this app unless you’re talking about one of those cheap plastic disposable film cameras.

  28. Making a whole article about your hate for intragram simply because it is becoming trendy…How hipster is that?? :P

    1. What article did you read? The one I read said he didn’t like it because the very concept of it is ridiculous. Which it is…

      1. Do you think he would have written this article if that instragram thing wasn’t that popular?? Let me remind you the first sentence: “You’ve seen this Instragram Photo they are everywhere!!”
        Correct me if I am I think what actually annoys the Backpacking Dad is to see such a “stupid” concept becoming so popular. So if the popularity is not the direct reason of this article, it is at least an indirect one

  29. what i dont get is people claim the social aspect of it, but facebook/twitter etc have the same photo posting aspect as instgram. you send a pic to facebook via your phone. but now you need a whole new social site just for your shitty phone pics? really? i cant wait for the social music site where i can send recording i made on my cellphone and add sound filters to it and post it to my instaphono site.

  30. ‘damn, this whole post is stupid. if you don’t like it, fine. but don’t badger on someone elses opinion.  I hate people like you, thinking your opinion is the only thing that mathers or the only correct opinion.  Did you notice I used the word opinion alot?  because afterall…it’s just your own opinion.   My opinion for example is that you’re a total douchebag. But I don’t expect you to agree with that because I’m not as megalomanic as you are. 

    1. You do realize that:
      A. This is HIS blog where he posts his opinions. No one ever said you had to read it.
      B. You just proved your own point against yourself.

    2. What is this! I don’t even?
      (insert Jackie Chan picture (non instagrammed) here)

  31. Good to know I’m by far not the only person who thinks its irritating. Spend decades and decades getting good resolution color photos out of our cameras and seconds ruining those photos to share every last moment of our lives with people who don’t care. What a revolution in photography :)

  32. OMG THANK YOU for saying this!  I was just Googling around, trying to find someone else who hates instagram as much as I do!  I am completely baffled by people using modern, awesome photographic technology and then making their photos look like shitty, PRE- awesome photographic technology photos.  If I were a person in the photographic technology development industry I would be banging my head against the friggin wall right now!

    “It’s some stupid iPhone app that lets you ruin your pictures.” 

    EXACTLY!  Beautifully said, sir!

  33. Instagram is less for “hipsters” and more for followers. They see one person using it, then they jump right on the bandwagon. It’s sickening.

  34. Instagram is this generation’s version of pre-worn jeans and other faux-vintage hipster crap. 

    Sure, fans of Istagram all sidestep this embarrassing issue by saying “no, I’m just using it for the community!”, but this logic fails when you consider the community is nothing but DIRTY HIPSTERS who use stupid faux-vintage filters on their photos. Also, why do they require a separate social community from Twitter and Facebook? Maybe they’re instagramming some dirty pics, or what?

    Seriously, what an embarrassing trend.

  35. I hate IG so much, and I hate hipsters even more. I still love times before 1990, but other people just like it because it’s “trendy”. I agree 100% with the statements above. It’s just another reason why todays society is going to HELL!!

    1. Lotta hate in this post… And posted on 4/20 of all days! Where’s the love?

  36. Instagram is just a symptom of a greater character deficit that plagues youth culture. The Hipster movement itself is reactionary. Art, media, and pop culture in general is so processed, dumbed down, and pandering that Hipsters reject it and only celebrate things that are 1) terrible (William Shatner’s albums, or PBR) 2) Seemingly quirky and unique. (thrift store clothing, knitting). These are kids that grew up on Barney and Disney movies and were given awards and trophies for everything. They didn’t live in a real world. They grew up in a bubble. And now that instant and social media are making pop music, tv, and movies unwatchable, these hipsters are just trying to emulate aspects of their life with something more earnest. Vintage clothes that come from era’s that seem real or have some sort of identity or Old fashioned mustaches, bicycles. ENTER Instagram. They can transform their unremarkable pictures into something that looks like it has character even though it’s fake and never will have character. That, in a nutshell, is the chasm hipsters are stuck in. Instagram is just a way they can try to feel a little more real. It’s not though. Hipsters are not real. They are sad posers. Like the Emo kids that say you guys in Tee shirts and jeans are all conformists meanwhile they are all wearing the same black nail polish and misfits tee shirts.

    1. You think about this too much.  It’s fun.  It’s a phase.  People grow and as the do so they express themselves.  Didn’t you?  Did you always adhere a lifestyle that even speaks to you now?  If not you might want to grow a little more.  I’ve gone through many phases that seemed normal at the time but in hindsight were completely daft.  That’s growing up.  Let the kids be kids.  And yes, some of these kids are 30.  Don’t worry about it.   You have your world, let them have theirs.  Relax.  

  37. Seriously? Thanks for your point of view but its definitely not a point of view I agree with. I think the filters look great from time to time and honestly do not think this is even worth a debate. If you like it, use it, if you dont use what u like… Simple.

  38. Rant= seek therapy. No one enjoys listening to someone bitch about what they don’t understand. photography is art it can be altered and customized to how
    the artist sees it. Be creative, or shut the hell up.

  39. Semi-professional photographer here: Instagram is complete s**t.  When I see Instagram’d photos, I want to immediately delouse all the people in said photo because it makes them look like filthy hipsters.  Even the word “instagram” is like a Sing-n-Spell version of “photograph.”  

    Instgram is for the uneducated masses; the ones who also wonder why their magic facebook box breaks because they downloaded 17 Ask.Com toolbars.

  40. Know why people use it?  Because it’s fun.  If you don’t find it fun don’t use it.  If you don’t understand other’s fun, don’t worry about it.  People seem to love Two and a Half Men.  I don’t get it.  That show kills me. So be it.  I don’t watch it.  I like filters because they can help the picture look how it looked to me at the time.  Because I’m medicated and the world always looks slightly askew.  

  41. Couldn’t agree more, pics are about the colors, contrasts, and variety. Once you filter everything then all pics look the same. Learn to use photoshop guys

      1. In my case, to make sure that I had allies against this invasion of the body snatchers.

  42. The big question is; What will Instagram look like in the future?  Photo reproductions of my full frame, 22 mp Canon Mk III or shittier versions of the Instagram photos of today?  

  43. And this is coming from a guy who applied vignettes on the two main pictures on his website.

  44. There is I realised today another issue.
    A cousin of mine has turned into one of those instagraming body snatchers. I used to enjoy looking at the pics on her FB, but now more and more of them are those painfully ugly instagrammed things.
    A common relative died, and she uploaded old pics of this relative. I’m very glad she did, and very glad she didn’t mistreat those pics with some sepia filter. We take pictures to remember moments, and also to remember people. When they’re not there any more, you want to see them as clearly as possible, not through some grotesque deforming mirror.
    Instagram is an epitome of the (non)culture of the instant, which is completely antagonist to the nature of photographs. You snap a pic, add some fun filter, upload it, hope someone will “like” your “artisty” pic, and forget about it completely.
    It’s the opposite of what you do with pics which you patiently into albums or folders, and take out once in a while to remember moments because something made you think about that trip you took years ago, or commemorate people who have passed.
    Instagrams only exists in an ugly, almost dystopian, present.
    Photographs are meant to be forever.

  45. Nice post! I really liked it!
    I was wondering why Instagram is so famous, since it sucks. I went on google and searched for “Instagram sucks”, and found your cool article!

    Keep it up!


  46. You don’t have to use the filters on instagram and just put it as is. I am just saying that if you do not like something, then don’t hate on the person using it. If that something what makes them happy and does not cause harm to anyone… then why hate. I use instagram not to just post pic, but to look up some funny pic. You look stupid with your mustache.. LoL roses are red violets are blue and dads who post stuff about there lives and has there kid ride on a back pack so he or she will fall out is a stupid ass… just saying.. blog this lol

  47. facebook paid a billion dollars for this piece of shit? are you f*cking serious?

  48. I don’t understand. I use Instagram to share photos with other users, and not because I want my pictures to look cool or hipster-ish or what not. If you don’t like the filters, don’t fucking use the filters. I don’t filter some of my photos either. Your judgment on people who use Instagram isn’t fair. You’re looking at it at only one point of view. And I’m looking at it at another point of view. Just saying.

  49. Even some of you who take pictures with your freakin cannon or nikon whatever edit your photos before you share them. And some actually over edit their photos. So original ey. Lol.
    And to make my point clear, I have a freakin nikon too but I don’t have issues with Instagram nor its users.

  50. I endorse 100% your analysis. However a friend of mine argues that hipsters are those who don’t like popular things, therefore you and me, as Instagram is definitely popular.

  51. You don’t have to use the filters to post a picture on instagram. I could never be a hipster and I fucking love instagram.

  52. It would be cool if the post and the comments were dated. So I would knew if I were outdated :P

  53. I use Instagram because I take shit photos. I can’t help that but Instagram helps me. If any of you professional and amazing photographers want to give me lessons so I can stop using Instagranm, that would be cool. Look forward to hearing from you guys.

  54. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve just done a blog post of my own ranting about Instagram. Glad to see some people do agree. :)

  55. My exact reason. I Googled Instagram + stupid. I can’t count the number of friends I have who buy expensive DSLR cameras only to ruin their shots in Instagram. It is just sheep stupid.

  56. In its defence, Instagram was an ingenious thing to create because people fall for this bullshit. On the other hand, it’s just a trend. It doesn’t actually do anything. It’ll die down soon

  57. Well articulated analysis! People are getting deluded by one clik nostalgia and have probably no idea whats driving them. Consumer idiocy.

  58. Most “photographers” labeled Friedlander a hipster photographer the moment he started using a rangefinder. Look where it took him. I find it pretty funny that the bulk of these comments just love hating hipsters. Your blog post was pretty solid and had some agreeable commentary. Too bad you let it dribble so sadly away that after the 100th anti hipster comment, I had no idea what the discussion was about. That’s pretty hipster of you.

  59. I searched for “why instagram is stupid” and reached your site.

    I also hate instagram and even tho i believe that your point is really interesting, i don’t agree. I believe it’s much more simpleminded then that. Take in consideration that kids of today (age 15-25) who probably is in the majority of instagram users, don’t have that nostalgic shitty photo connection that you(?) and i have. Sure, their parents might have those photos, but the kids don’t have that same emotional connection.
    So here is my reasoning: Instagram is popular because instagram is fast food. Instagram makes shitty photographers believe that they are good photographers. “Wow! I took a picture of a cup of coffee and it looks A-FUCKING-MAZING! Look at all that flares and bright colours!” All these filters makes photos appealing for the tasteless majority with all the blurs and saturated/washed out colours. You can take a photo of a piece of dog shit on a plate and it will look gorgeous to the majority. Instagram turns nonsensical pointless shit into appealing art and a total idiot who never held a real camera in their entire life can achieve that and feel good about themselves.

  60. Instagram, facebook, iphone and everything else that meets the hipster bullshit lifestyle requirement is just that – bullshit. I live in San Francisco, work in tech, know more about the stuff the hipsters use than the hipsters themselves. But that’s not the point. Knowing isn’t the point. DOING is the point. LOOKING is the point. BEING is the point. It’s an “authenticity damaged” thing they do, but they don’t realize it. They are too emo to face and appreciate the real photos of life. Everything has to be whimsy, nostaligic, virtual, animated, emo, not real. Real is too hard, real is too-DAY!

  61. I’m with you guy. I consider it be a mark of abject stupidity (or at least, serious immaturity) that anyone would use Instagram.

  62. I wanted to be a hipster until I noticed how trendy anti-hipsters were.
    I have since changed my mind.

  63. I Googled “What is Instagram and why do hipsters love it so damn much” – I don’t do the whole FacebookTwitter crap, so I was unaware.

    Loved the article, but it’s astonishing how excruciatingly butthurt a few of these commenters are, particularly the one from Kelly Berger. WOW.

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