Today Instagram revealed a new mission statement that reflects its true purpose. At our best, we don’t share photos or videos to brag or get ‘Likes’. We share to let others see through our eyes. Facebook has “To make the world more open and connected”. Now, alongside the launch of video, Instagram has its own guiding words: “To capture and share the world’s moments”
The phrase may be new but it was always the point.
I remember when Facebook launched status updates. With an audience of my close friends, it became a place for my feelings. One of my first status updates, just a few months after the feature debuted, was “Josh Constine is asleep to dream.” Those words captured my feeling of the possibilities that lay ahead for an excitable college senior. I only wanted to sleep if it let my mind splash in a sea of fancy and the impossible. Otherwise there was just too much life to live. The words would mean nothing to someone who didn’t know me.
I failed to really get Twitter until years after I started. For a while I blindly posted links to sites full of “social media tips.” I rambled about my current activities. But one day it struck me. My internal monologue of wild musings didn’t have to stay internal any more. While the norm on Facebook was to post maybe once a day, I didn’t have to ration out my tweets. I could share my thoughts with the world, raw and uncut. People didn’t need to know me. We just needed to be learning, together
But my most vivid “eureka” moment with social media happened while I was walking in Golden Gate Park at sunset. Before me, creamy cloudflare reflected off a pond. It was so beautiful it felt selfish to keep it to myself. I wanted all my friends to see what I saw.
But I was no photographer, and held just a crummy early-generation iPhone. The shot lacked the vibrance and emotion of being there. Yet with Instagram’s filters I could return the essence of the moment to what I captured with my camera. And with time, a community grew around the ability to be transported.
This is why Instagram deserves to be mentioned alongside Facebook and Twitter. It may not be an identity provider or the backbone of the real-time web. But it’s the most vivid way to let someone, no matter how far away, feel like they’re standing right beside you. If Facebook is the heart, and Twitter is the head, then Instagram is the eyes, and the eyes are the window to the soul.