Instagram and the birth(death) of originality

Instagram, a perfect tool for expression- lifestyle, fashion, food, art, personal, style, products, etc. we often find ourselves getting caught up trying hard to stand out from the overwhelming influx of updates, mesmerizing pictures, and videos, that sometimes translates to real-life experiences. But even then, it gets repetitive scrolling down a feed, as everything looks identical, borrowed or refurbished to appear different but sadly still remains similar, probably, because it is; standing alone on the top of the mountain, eating a healthy avocado sandwich, holding another cup of coffee with cream, hashtag “startaperfectmorning”. But then, why do we have so much commonality and repetition in this age(being dubbed the social media age), and how deeply did IG(Instagram) influence this social curse. Or a blessing?

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram became -one of- the most popular social networks in the world. The amounts of images shared per day are approximately 100 million, with overall posts of more than 50 billion for the past 9 years. When it started, Instagram users all tried to identify themselves, come to terms with their online social status, and for some, the novel choice of curating an online persona or being un-apologetically original to draw attention became a choice. With the ongoing development of the network, it became clear the popularity index brewing, with some users being more popular than others, and then the rise of influencing marketing began with the concept of earning while sharing the “perfect picture.” Others less creative and lazier simply started to copy content to become famous overnight. The Internet has made the world a smaller place while making it disturbingly easier to mimic the image of anyone and brands, not to mention how much money creative industries spend protecting their copyright. Even when not about plagiarizing, an original image requires effort, technical and creative skills, and while buying presets for editing in IG is easier and doesn’t require unique talents, you still need to have an “eye” to be able to figure out what might be appealing to your audience or in individual cases, what might get you more money. As a result, we become entangled in the vicious circle of IG: what gets likes, and the plethora of recreations in millions of accounts to get likes…

People are social creatures, and before Instagram, social media platforms like Myspace, Facebook, Twitter all seemed to have similar social agendas: more social than transactional, influential and sadly, ostentatious. We valued the idea of sharing images, dates, facts, opinions, experiences with our families and friends, and even more-so open to the suggestion of accepting unknown friend requests into our circle. Instagram did come with a dose of this agenda, but not long lastingly enough until its evolvement into what would be a playing field for creativity and originality theft.

What has lead to a repetition of visual and creative content on IG?

Social Validation? Money? Oversharing? Creativity bubble?

The never-ending aspiration for popularity drive users nuts. So many people go into overdrive to establish themselves as individuals (influencers) through the exact same resources: consuming the same visual content, taking the same photographs and tackling the same demographics. This clime continues to make actual originality a target of copiers, and has led to countless occurrences of creatives and originals being targeted by their up and coming peers as well “big scale emulators”- established brand names before the social media era backed by million-dollar investments, with legal representatives ready to tackle an average creative working to grow an identity or an audience.

The underlying effect of this is the current landscape of intellectual and creativity theft. Some happening intentionally, others blaming such repetition on creativity bias: the act of being subconsciously influenced by someone else’s work that it reflects on yours.

But then is Instagram to blame for lack of originality or creativity? Or do we argue that people have always been un-original, but a smaller information loop, being a derivative of Instagram made it more glaring?

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