I've been an Instagram participant for roughly three years. I joined after (and not because) my boyfriend of two years broke up with me. Coincidentally it helped me establish a new identity. I didn't have to be the girl my ex was portraying me as on his social media platform of choice, Twitter. I didn't have to use my words to subliminally respond to every cheap shot he directed at me for his friends, and virtually the whole world, to see. On the 'gram I could be the mature, bigger person who was moving on (albeit posting the occasional "thirst trap" to remind him what he gave up) and doing exciting things with her life post-breakup.
Of course eventually I found that Instagram could be more than a way to look cool without my ex. Like all social media does, it helped me connect to the world, not just the immediate community around me. I could tell people across the ocean about my (now defunct) music duo, uncover pictures of myself from the latest Stunt Loco, follow the latest news, and find other Selena Quintanilla fanatics. If a picture says a thousand words, I found a writer's promised land in a free app.
With all Instagram has to offer, it's hard to understand why I sometimes get flack for using it so fervently. Some people think Instagram is focused around conceit and self-obsession. That may be true but what's wrong with some self-love? I believe social media, when done right, can reinforce positive self-esteem. It's cool to take pride in what you look like and how you present yourself to others. For me it's a means of branding.
When I press that famous camera icon I'm not getting sucked into a mind-swallowing, time-consuming black hole. I'm expanding my view. I'm getting a glimpse of other human lives. I'm networking and making the most of a twenty-first century resource. Don't judge me.