After reading this, I began to apply my knowledge of nature and history to the social media tool Instagram. More specifically, I wanted to analyze how people connected to music on Instagram. I will share my findings with you by playing a little game I like to call Myth vs. Reality (gee, I wonder where I came up with that creative title...).
As I thought about the types of pictures I wanted to put on Instagram, I aimed to capture individuals (mostly strangers) enjoying their music either together or alone, analyzing how music connects and isolates us. I carefully constructed each caption to include the most important lyrics from the songs being listened to by the listener, trying to capture that special connection each person had with their music. I also wanted to include pictures that show the musician's lifestyle, pulling old pictures from my brother's band performances and music collections to illustrate how music is the central part of this person's life. I thought for sure Instagram would be filled with pictures such as these, and that the connections between my pictures and others would be easy to discern, especially with the hashtag #musicislife. After all, hashtags function as a way of bringing together a community of like-minded individuals. Right?
Despite my best efforts, it was difficult for me to escape the plethora of narcissism that seemed to be ever flowing from the fingertips of my fellow hashtag (ab)users. No matter how many hashtags I explored - #music, #musicians, #musicmondays (unless you're an ENORMOUS Justin Beiber fan, don't bother wasting your time with that last one) - one thing remained true: the pictures were completely unrelated to music. Most of them consisted of the ever popular selfie or amateur music videos at a sad attempt to strike it rich and get famous quick. I yearned to see a guitar, a stage, hell some headphones at the very least! But what I found was in fact, the polar opposite. It seems that regardless of the "connecting" material, Instagram is the platform for one thing and one thing only: self image.
I think that in another environment or social media device, the sense of community that arises from music listening would have been more defined. For instance, Spotify allows users to see what their friends are listening to and to add music to their own profiles based on that. Devices such as this support the idea of music as a community-strengthening entity. But Instagram is not the place for such connections. This is the place for surface level narcissism. Posting pictures of ourselves BEFORE we go to the concert with #musicislife rather than posting pictures DURING the concert. Posting videos of our cover songs rather than posting the actual song by the actual artist. These things do more to deny the connections the hashtag is supposed to facilitate rather than strengthen them. We end up "following" an array of faces we may or may never see in reality. And in this sea of selfies, the music gets lost. Perhaps the connections we think we get on Instagram are not connections at all. Perhaps this is just another digital soapbox, waiting for the next person to get up and yell, "#LOOKATME!"
Barthes, Roland, and Annette Lavers. "Preface." Mythologies. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972. . Print.