Instagram: the Digital Version of Peer Pressure | Op-Ed

Generally speaking, social media has given a voice and creative outlet for any of us who wish to express themselves in such a manner. It's kept friends and family connected while also making people previously considered "untouchable" within reach now.

Ironically, it's disconnected us. It's brought about a digital means to be together online, but a side-effect of that is we are removed from the physical present. Our focus and attention has been shifted and encouraged to remain online. All the while, the real world remains there like some object for us to use at our disposal with our own gain being the prerogative.

One example of such influence is INSTAGRAM.

Between posts, stories, likes, views, followers, #ads, and more - Instagram has become an attention source. When you're not capturing, filtering, tagging, and posting, you're exploring the endless stream of curated content for you.

Rather than focusing on the negative effects in-app uses can have on a persons mental and even physical health, there's something to be said on how this online platform is affecting the offline world.

Living in a place like Los Angeles, there's a huge focus and priority to making an impact online. Because of that, there are more than plenty of opportunities around the city to capture, post, and tag. Specifically, there's the "Angel Wings Project" - large paintings of angel wings on buildings facades curated by Colette Miller. It can be searched for with the hashtag #ComeAndFindIt, but lucky for you, this article has made it - and many other Instagram locations - easy to find: Thrillist LA Instagram Locations.

But what about things besides art? What about something as simple as food? You know - the stuff that makes a 💩. Well, food businesses and restaurants have been picking up on the potential for attracting customers and attention. Thus, they've adapted to making their products and appearances to be "Instagrammable", "Grammable", "Insta-worthy" - you get the idea.

I will be the first to admit that I'm often conflicted about hopping on social media when I go out. I'm very compelled to first and foremost enjoy where I'm at, what I'm doing, and who I'm doing it with. But, there's also this little devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear - calling me out to the treacherous sea of social media like a mermaid and her siren song.

More than ever, it's like second nature to get on social media and share what your doing and where you're doing it at. It feels so rewarding to tag, post, share, and start seeing likes and new followers roll in. What you're doing is so cool and hip - everyone who's anyone just has to see it; from painted wing murals to artisinal ice cream - it's almost like businesses want you to post on social media.

And you're right, that's exactly what they want you to do.

Businesses are now in the mindset of making their products and physical spaces appeal to not only the comfort of a person, but how shareable it can be for social media.

From lighting, designs, kitschy art, neon signs - all of these style and aesthetic choices are in high consideration when constructing millennial-run businesses. It's purposefully done with the hopes that they'll stand out to attract customers, which leads to likes and shares on social media, which then leads to more customers.

It's upsetting and perhaps a little scary to think that - when it comes to products and services - the new priority is "how can we get shared on social media" instead of "how can our products change or improve peoples lives". That may be a bit hyperbolic, but businesses are taking new approaches in how they attract customers and get their names shared via social media.

It's almost as if appearances matter more than the quality of service, like everyone is in a book cover judging contest or something...

So what do you think? Is the goal of needing to be shared on social media distracting from the actual product? Or, is the appeal of businesses decor and facade going to be the deciding factor for you to try new things?

In the meantime, go ahead and share this story - let's start up a discussion around this topic.