Technical difficulties with something as big as Instagram never go unnoticed. (Image via The Sun)
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Technical difficulties with something as big as Instagram never go unnoticed. (Image via The Sun)

Two glitches in seven days have underscored, yet again, how addicted everyone is to the app.

In this photography-obsessed era, it’s a surprise when someone you know doesn’t have an Instagram account. It seems like everyone tries to capture the moment at just the right angle, enhance it with a flattering filter, slap on a clever caption and share it with the world.

From well-lit selfies at music festivals to multicolored sunsets on the beach, Instagram posts allow people to document their lives in a single, aesthetic compilation. Big moments together with small, an older sister’s graduation from law school side-by-side with the seasoned avocado toast from brunch.

It’s also become a way to keep track of what everyone else is up to. What is Stacey doing this summer? A quick Instagram search will tell you she’s vacationing in Cancun with her boyfriend — and that mimosa in her hand looks quite delicious.

This extends beyond personal friendships and relationships. The public relishes in perusing celebrity Instagram accounts, eager to stay updated on Beyoncé’s album release date or Ariana Grande’s relationship status.

Businesses have snatched up Instagram’s strong presence in everyday life as a marketing strategy. Any platform where content is constantly being shared is a prime tool for companies to advertise their products and services.

For example, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia frequently posts meaningful Instagram videos showcasing its products and mission for sustainability. They advertise by pulling at the heartstrings of their followers, a perfect fit for Instagram’s idealistic culture.

By the end of last year, Instagram had accrued over 800 million active users, and as of April 2018, the United States had the highest number of instagram users at 120 million. Brazil came next with 61 million users, followed by India with 59 million. Globally, Instagram was ranked one of the most popular forms of social media used by teens, second only to Snapchat.

With its breadth of users and strong, international presence, Instagram needs to be available at every moment of every day. This made for a tumultuous moment yesterday when the application stopped working.

Users all around the world were unable to refresh their pages to see new posts, which caused quite a stir. It may not be the first time this has happened — Instagram suffered a similar disruption just last week — but that made it no less exciting for the media.

Twitter blew up, with users tweeting their reactions with the hashtag #instagramdown and expressing the void Instagram’s absence had left in their lives. “Instagram Down” was instantly plastered all over the news, making headlines amidst other pressing world issues and concerns.

Millennials and the emerging Gen Z demographic have developed such a heavy reliance on Instagram and other forms of social media, or even on technology in general, that moments of technical difficulty render them almost unable to function. The reaction to a simple, temporary absence of an application has become almost equivalent to that of a community-wide power outage.

Yes, people still need electricity and heat to keep their lives running. But make sure to add Instagram to the list of things that, when gone without, cause society to fall to its knees.

Writer Profile

Maya Ramani

University of Virginia

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