In mid-December, I decided to do something drastic. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that drastic. But I quit Instagram, a service I had been a huge proponent of prior.
Before December 18, I had shared a total of 398 photos (not counting the ones I deleted), and spent more time than I care to admit editing photos to share to the service. It was fun, and it was the easiest way to share all the interesting (and sometimes not so interesting) things going on in my life with multiple services at once.
Then I had an epiphany.
For the better part of three years, I have been extremely critical of mobile camera quality. In fact, I often receive feedback from readers and viewers that I’m simply too tough on mobile cameras. What can I say? My standards, they are my own. And when you have a select few mobile cameras that are capable of capturing a much higher quality image, it’s difficult not to be so critical.
All the while, almost every picture I shared was sent to Instagram, a service that destroys image quality with numerous, tasteless filters and severe cropping. No matter the original resolution of an image, pictures shared with Instagram are cropped to a 612 by 612 pixel square – a mere 0.37-megapixels.
Sure, there was a convenience factor. But compared to Twitter, Google+, and even Facebook, the level of interaction I got on Instagram was paltry. I might have received anywhere from zero to 20 likes when I shared a picture, and I was lucky if my pictures got any comments.
For a service dedicated to pictures (and no video), it’s interaction is pitiful. Well, at least it was for me … at the time.
And I stuck to my guns. From December 18 until the time of this writing, I have not shared a single thing on Instagram. I never disabled or deactivated my account, I simply logged out and deleted the app from all my devices.
Last week, however, I downloaded the application once again, and I’ve reconsidered my stance on the service … for more than one reason.
Of late, I’ve been on a mission – a mission to meet new people and break from my social norm. While out with friends, I’m more open to speaking to total strangers and making new friends. And it’s been relatively successful.
Well, it was until I hit an unexpected road block. Instagram. I was huddled in a picture with practical strangers and someone snapped a picture. They asked for my Instagram handle, then it happened. “I don’t use Instagram,” I said. Everyone stopped, looked at me as if I had blasphemed, and asked in unison, “Why not?”
Chances are, I would never have talked to this person again anyway. And I wouldn’t have paid any attention to it … if it hadn’t happened again just two days later. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram has a unique reach into the meatspace.
You don’t tag strangers in your Facebook posts. You can’t without adding them first. And there’s rarely a reason to mention someone you just met – a stranger – on Twitter. But if you take a picture with someone you just met, you just might be inclined to drop a tag on the Instagram description.
But that’s only a small part of a big picture.
From the very beginning of Vine, I fell in love. If a picture’s worth a million words, a video must be worth a couple hundred million more. Right? Sometimes a picture just doesn’t do the job. And YouTube is great for some things. Social sharing of videos is not one of those things. Neither is Facebook’s video platform – at least not from mobile.
Twitter may not have been the first to make a dedicated video sharing platform, but it was the first one to do it right. Vine’s adoption rate is impressive. That said, it isn’t perfect either. It’s limited to just short, six-second, looping video clips, and it has similar interaction issues, as well.
Facebook and Instagram stomped all over Vine with a knee-jerk reaction copycat. Instagram video doesn’t limit you to six-second clips. Instead, it allows up to 15-second clips that are editable. And it’s backed by its 130 million monthly active users, meaning more people were likely using Instagram video on day one than there are Vine users today.
As much as I hate uninspired copycat applications, Instagram walks away the clear winner. Using a separate application for picture and video is ludicrous, and I’m taking my shallow business (so to speak) where the users are.
Frankly, despite all the negative things I’ve said about Instagram on the Weekly, I sort of miss the service.