Our lives, one picture at a time...

I never understood what the big deal was about Instagram until I joined it recently. I wasn't inclined to join before because the idea of sharing photos for no particular reason with the rest of the world didn't make much sense to me. Until I signed up. And now I'm hooked. Which is surprising, as I've never been a very 'photo-oriented' person, mainly because:
1) I don't know how to take those snazzy photos
2) I'm terribly self-conscious (I may even need a tutorial to take a selfie!)
3) This whole online privacy thing worries me

Our lives, one picture at a time - Sand In My Toes

But I'm getting over my misgivings, and have realised how much fun it is to scroll through almost unending photos - snapshots from the homes and personal lives of so many people I may never meet. This fascinates me. I don't think privacy is really an issue anymore, because photos have become our language. We communicate with and reach out to each other through them.

We wanted a human connection on the web. We wanted to meet with real people.In the olden days of the internet (way back in the 90s), we were nameless creatures. We lived in the online realm as crazygrl24 or purplepunk or something like that (apologies if you actually had those user names). Later, we got avatars which may or may not have resembled us in real life. Does anybody remember the failed attempted at creating a virtual world with Second Life? But we didn't want that. We wanted to have a human connection on the web. We wanted to meet with real people, and know them for who they actually are. That's why Instagram is so popular. It's not about voyeurism at all, as I imagined. It's about sharing the happy /unhappy /angry /silly moments with others who can look at your photo and say, Hey, that happened to me too!

When I started blogging in 2005, it was uncommon for bloggers to spend much time on photos for their posts, unless they were food or travel bloggers. Photos were only added as an afterthought. Words were all we depended upon to express ourselves. Like novelists, we didn't have the need for pictures to explain our thoughts. After a hiatus, when I returned to blogging over a year ago, BOOM! Things were very different. The explosion of social media meant that bloggers had to be as visual as they were verbal. Today, I spend a good amount of time taking photos for my posts or creating graphics for them. Social media channels themselves have become so important that we cater to them rather than just our blogs. So, it is close to unthinkable to post without pictures. I know there are many bloggers who still follow the old school style of writing-focused blogging, but they are a dying breed. They are good writers, mind you, but there's something intensely appealing about good photographs.

There are many good writers, but there's something intensely appealing about  photographs.So, if you are out to create an identity online (or even offline), you have to expose yourself. You have to get out there with all your flaws and share your secrets. Not that it's a bad thing, because millions of people are doing it with you. This is our new world order. You haven't really done anything until you've uploaded a pic as proof of it. No vacation is complete without sharing an album on Facebook. No meal had until you've Instagrammed it. Kids' activities aren't enough if you don't have pictures for Pinterest! There is no such thing as oversharing.

For bloggers, churning out posts isn't enough. You have to think about the photos, edit them, and create a layout. You have too schedule tweets, status updates - and do them at the right time when your audience will see them. It's like running a marketing department! I can't say I mind, though. I discover so many new blogs every day. I come across dozens of ideas on Pinterest. And someone's always working on perfecting social media metrics and sharing their findings. It's a dynamic world - exploding with ideas, thoughts and arguments. I like this whole interconnection that exists between different social media platforms (thanks to the hashtag).

Our lives are simultaneously being documented as we live them. 

Just by reading this, you are part of this new order too. You can reach out to me and I can talk to you. That's why I come here every day, and I write when I have something to say. I like how easy it is to do this, and become part of this fluid reality that our lives are today.

This post has been linked to Finish The Sentence Friday and Post Comment Love.

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