Instagram is the fastest growing social network in recent years with over 300 million users sharing 60 million images a day. It’s the platform that so-called millennials spend a great deal of time and I think I figured out why. It’s all to do with the art of zen.
Social media has taken over our lives. We wake up. We check Facebook. We post on Facebook. We like and share our friends posts. It’s comforting to be so connected with our friends and family, to reach them sporadically with only a click. But social media does occupy quite a lot of our thought processes during a typical day too. Which is why Instagram has become so popular. It’s an image, with a caption but it’s the image which tells the story. And visually this provokes our imaginations, freeing our thoughts rather than tying them down to absorbed words which make up other people’s thoughts.
How often during our busy lives, do we pause, observe our surroundings and take a mental snapshot of moments. I did that once. We’d had a fabulous holiday in Crete with friends, I was around 10 years old. It had been so momentous I didn’t want to leave. As I looked out of the back of the bus taking us to the airport, I saw a view of the Mediterranean sea through a parting across two hills. I closed my eyes like the shutter going down on a camera and that image has stayed with me 32 years later.
A photo posted by Claire Jones-Hughes (@brightonmums) on
Of course Instagram uses actual pictures. But together with the process of choosing a shot, editing and considering a caption our brain gets a visual work out. It’s a positive use for a smartphone, where it would be so easy to be obsessed with recording moments rather than capturing them. We are all learning to think like photographers and visual artists. Before we post, we ask ourselves, “What does this picture say? What does it represent?”.
And there’s the zen. Meditating visually through our surroundings. And most likely why it’s a favourite platform. Because in amongst all the chatter, it’s the virtual sip of coffee or a lungful of fresh air.
Next time you whip out the smartphone, do a 360 survey of your surroundings. Then choose the shot, choose a thought
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