“Wait, wait!” your girlfriend exclaims as the waiter sets down the tray of dessert you’d been waiting thirty minutes for.
You sigh impatiently as she whips out her iPhone in one smooth movement and snaps three to four pictures in quick succession. Licking your lips, you pick up your spoon and reach for the bowl of ice cream… but–
“Stop!” Girlfriend screeches.
“I’m not done yet!”
You hear your stomach grumble as she continues to photograph the collection of food on the table, rearranging the cutlery and telling you to move out of the way because your shadow is ruining her picture composition. She shifts around from corner to corner of your table, elbowing you out of the way as she does so. Then the worst part comes – you glance around the restaurant in embarrassment as she proceeds for the finale: she climbs onto her chair, stands up, and takes a top-down shot.
“Can you hold out your spoon and pretend you’re reaching for the food?”
You oblige, but only because you love her. Right… right?
By the time she is satisfied (though you can’t see a difference between the 100 shots of the table from the same angle), the ice cream you’d been anticipating for the past hour has turned into a puddle of pudding, and suddenly you don’t feel hungry anymore.
“You should thank me because now you won’t gain weight!”
If you live in Hong Kong, you’ve most likely witnessed this scene – perhaps you’ve seen a stranger in a high-class restaurant snapping away, perhaps you’re the boyfriend in the scenario above, or perhaps… you are that photographer. Whatever your role is in the social media world, it cannot be denied that the little app called Instagram has taken over our lives. And it’s not just in Hong Kong – it’s happening worldwide.
Instagram has evolved into a miniature blog that has deviated from its original intended function – to be instantaneous, hence the name. It doesn’t help that the most popular Instagrammers are the ones with all the photo-filters, themed images, and latergrams. And lets just admit it – everyone loves fame, everyone loves recognition – who wouldn’t want people praising their beautifully photoshopped and tweaked images?
The Instagram culture has brought along many positives. For one, it has helped many young people financially. With the sky-high rent in Hong Kong, opening a store physically would require a lot of money, and for most, owning a self-run café is just a pipe dream. But now, many online stores have popped up on Instagram. Being a seller on Instagram doesn’t even require coding knowledge or money to set up an actual website, as the app becomes the platform. In fact, advertising is even easier now as sellers can directly follow and notify real users in their target market.
In Hong Kong, it has become a moneymaking path for young adults to buy trendy products in Mainland China then resell the products on Instagram. These products aren’t just limited to physical items – they include services like haircuts and even bakers have taken to selling customized cakes and cookies.
Apart from Instagram being a channel where for earning on the side, it has also evolved into a platform where talented artists can sell their handicraft, where photographers can showcase their works and where musicians can promote themselves in short snippets.
It has also paved out new career paths and ways into the media industry. For example, modeling agencies now have faster and easier access to girls with potential. Social media has also brought back the blogger: a person who presents themselves on different social platforms and earns their money through companies that sponsor them. Today, society has famous bloggers, Instagrammers and Youtubers versus the traditional actors and singers… but who’s a celebrity and who’s not? It’s unclear – the definition of ‘celebrity’ is definitely blurred nowadays.
Of course, all great things come with a price. In a world where social media comes first, it’s important to keep in mind that what you see on the screen, whether it is on a computer or phone, is always filtered. And I don’t mean filtered as in photo-filters, I’m talking about filtering the truth. People like to present the best versions of themselves and don’t usually publicize their sad moments, and why would they? While it’s nice to erase the bad times, it can also be very misleading.
Perhaps it’s a sadly impossible feat nowadays, but one should take some time off the screen everyday and actually appreciate the real world… if you’re not willing to do it for your eyes, then at least do it for your sanity, folks!