I admit it: I’m late to the Instagr.am game. Yes, I signed up when it went live but I rarely used it. Over the past few months, though, I’ve become slightly addicted to it and I think it may be the best social network around.
For those of you who don’t use it yet, Instagr.am lets you share photos from your smart phone with people following you. It allows you to “like” or comment on others’ pictures. It’s kind of like a visual Twitter, but instead of 140 characters of text, the stream is completely visual.
Of all the social platforms I use, this one feels the most intimate. Perhaps it’s because people share a lot of pictures of their kids and family. Or maybe it’s because there are so many pictures of what people are eating (it feels like there are more pictures of food than anything else!).
And honestly, I’m completely blown away with the artistry some people are able to capture on their phones. Maybe they just have a better artistic eye than I do or maybe their phones are better (iPhone 5 can’t come a minute to soon for me). Some days I feel like I’m viewing a Still Life with Social exhibit. Just beautiful.
I think my hesitancy grew out of two things. First, because this feels closer and more intimate, there’s a brief element of voyeurism here. It’s more than either Facebook or Twitter, since it’s pictures, not links or Farmville notices. You’re following what other people see, not think or boast. Initially it felt a little too close for me, and I also hesitated about what I would share myself.
For that reason, I didn’t want to have all of the same people in my Twitter stream (or even on Facebook) on my Instagr.am stream. I have a pretty small Instagr.am crowd; it’s closer to the size of my Facebook than Twitter. And even though I don’t know all the people I’m following very well, I feel like I know them a LOT better through their pictures than I did through their blogs or Tweets.
The one catch with Instagr.am is that it lacks a good desktop app. Instagr.am is built for the mobile platform. There are a few third-party apps that others have built, including a free Web module called Inkstagram. Living in Vermont with its spotty mobile coverage means I prefer desktop versions to mobile. Because of Instagr.am, though, I’m getting over it.
These days, when I open up my iPhone or iPad, the first thing I look at is what pictures other people have posted. I get a taste of different cities, countries and activities. It’s by far my most vibrant and interesting social stream.
If you’re not on it yet, you should start. And if you are, I hope to see you there.