Thanksgiving celebrations across the country were temporarily halted on Thursday as millions of Americans took a moment before digging into the turkey to whip out their phones and snap a photo of their feast.
With a quick crop and application of a filter effect, they posted the images en masse to Instagram, the burgeoning mobile phone app available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android users. The company broke records Thursday with users posting a total of 10 million photos — a significant increase in comparison to its daily average of 5 million — culminating with a rate of 226 shared images per second around midday PST, according to USA TODAY.
Instagram has proliferated on campuses nationwide as students begin to craft innovative ways to use the app.
Stephanie Chan, a student at Emory University, became so enthralled with the app that she teamed up with two fellow students to create Posterfuse, a website that allows users to create and purchase personalized collages by aggregating Instagram and Facebook photos using a “drag and drop” interface.
As social media continues to focus more on the instantaneous — allowing a user to encapsulate a fleeting moment and then quickly move on to the next — Chan said Posterfuse allows people to memorialize life experiences.
“We just kind of wanted our photographic memories to be away from a screen,” Chan said. “Right now, everything we do is just kind of one social media post, and beyond that we never really look at all these photos again.”
Instagram has continued to grow in popularity since it was first launched in October 2010. In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Instagram had amassed 100 million users, an uptick from 80 million in July, just months after Facebook purchased the company for $1 billion.
“They’re this super-talented bunch of engineers, they just crossed 100 million users,” Zuckerberg said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco in September, according to Mashable. “They’re just killing it.”
Chan said she uses Instagram as a way to craft her “social media identity” and connect with her friends in a medium of artistic imagery.
“We live in a visual culture, and people like seeing things, and being up on other people with what they do and the things they experience,” Chan said. “It’s a very easy way to share your memories.”
As a former photographer, Chan said she was originally hesitant to use a program that simplifies and digitalizes the work of traditional photography, but she said she ultimately grew to appreciate the retro feel of the app — which features an array of filters with names like “1977” and “Lo-fi” — and its ease in sharing.
“I liked the fact that it sort of gave that old-school filter feel, and I used to do photography seriously, and I know there’s that whole contradiction between using Instagram and what photographers are supposed to be,” she said.
Sarah Weeks, a student at University of California – Fresno, said reading Facebook and Twitter updates can grow cumbersome, and she was originally interested in Instagram for the ability to connect with others through images.
“The fact that you could just post and look at pictures was intriguing,” Weeks said. “I don’t like reading statuses all the time.”
University of Dayton student Emily Freeman, a self-proclaimed “Instagram freak,” said the straightforward interface was a primary draw.
“I am constantly on it either looking at friends’ pictures or adding my own,” Freeman said. “It’s so addicting. I just like the simplicity behind it. It is easy for me to understand and easy to share.”
Freeman added that Instagram provides her with the opportunity to visually connect with relatives that may be difficult to visit frequently.
“I have family all across the country, so I enjoy being able to see what they are doing since we don’t see each other often,” she said.
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