It started off as a camera app with a variety of filters to choose from…Mayfair, Sierra, X-Pro II, Willow. Not a social media app, but a camera app for personal use.
Instagram officially launched in October 2010 as an app for users to take pictures. This app was different from any other camera app as it came with 7 photo filters to choose from. At this stage in the game, likes or comments were not even a consideration. It was about snapping a square photo (on a 1080 x 1080 canvas), and the option to enhance the image with a filter.
A couple years later, Facebook, known as a social networking site to connect with friends and family, bought Instagram for $1 billion. This is when Instagram started to progress into more than just a camera app, but an app for users to engage with other accounts.
In 2013, sponsored posts feature became available. This allowed businesses to make money off Instagram by advertising and promoting their offerings on this social platform. While businesses benefited from promoting their brands, Instagram also benefited as this brought in revenue for them.
Instagram continued to release yearly updates including in-app features like Boomerang, Instagram Stories, and Live Stream Video. As we can see, Instagram had evolved from a photo-taking app to an app where users socialize and businesses make money, in just over 9 years.
Humans most basic needs have not changed much since cavemen. It’s true. Although we appear to have changed through evolution in terms of our appearance, our basic needs as humans have stayed the same. That is, we prioritize social connections, and the feeling of belonging to something or someone.
In the age of technology, and quick, and easy access to information and people, we are constantly connected. We turn to social platforms, and our phones to connect with other humans for this feeling of ‘belonging’. Instagram is a perfect example of how our brains have shifted in terms of how we perceive the notion of ‘belonging’. Research shows that ‘likes’ on social platforms such as Instagram provide a boost of dopamine, but only in the short-term. We constantly look for validation and belonging by the quantity of likes we get on our posts.
Earlier this year, Instagram removed the number of likes visible on posts, so only the user could see their likes number. Instagram did this to remove the pressure put on people to validate another person’s post. Instead, Instagram wanted to encourage users on Instagram to engage with posts authentically, rather than engaging based on numbers.
Instagram now wants to take it a step further and remove likes altogether. Likes will no longer be visible on news feed, and only the user can see their likes. Therefore, you can like posts, but you cannot see who has liked these posts.
This makes us question the existence of social media platforms. Are they to make us feel validated and have a sense of belonging, or do they provide us with a social community where we share similar interests in the content that we post? Either way, we are all humans and share the same basic needs.
So… what’s next for the future of social media? Will we erase it completely in search for something better or more meaningful or will we continue to look for validation in our virtual realities? I guess we will have to wait and see.