Social Digital Life and Future Perspectives

  February 14, 2024   Read time 4 min
Social Digital Life and Future Perspectives
Among those Instagram users who are not part of the Igers community, photography is perceived as a good vehicle for social interaction as it overcomes linguistic barriers between those from different countries.

The use of photography in everyday social interactions plays a useful role. Sarvas and Frohlich, conducting a study on changes in domestic photography, reported that the use of the camera phone regarding social relationships can be illustrated through six motivations that can be listed as: individual personal reflection, individual personal task, socially mutual experience, socially absent friend or family, socially mutual task (functional images in support of a task plumbing problems for instance) and socially remote task (functional images to accomplish a task picture of a goldfish to remember to feed). As can be seen, despite the huge changes in photographic technology, people continue to use photography to improve memory and support communication.

The use of social media platforms and social networking sites visibly changes the way people socially interact with each other and the way social relationships are established and maintained. A previous study conducted on the practice of photosharing on Instagram in relation to social relationships showed that people enthusiastically add images to their everyday interactions on social media platforms and social networking sites as a way to enrich their communication. However, there is the perception that images alone cannot take over other means of social engagement at least for the many Instagram users.

The following section aims to enrich this argument by providing additional examples that illustrate users’ necessity to combine images to other means of interaction for more complete social experiences. In this discourse, the visual element seems to add another level to many social experiences. For instance, Richard, commenting on the wide use of images on social media platforms, believes that when people share their cup of coffee, although they do it through a photographic image, their intent goes beyond the mere interest in the coffee. Instead, they are interested in the type of social interaction that sharing that image can produce. This is an example the guides the investigation of new expressions of social relationships facilitated by the visual.

In general, social media platforms are perceived as the most popular representation of the social use of the Internet. Forums, online communities, social networking sites, chatrooms and many others are social spaces where users present themselves, share multimedia content with other users and create social interactions. For many, communicating on social media platforms is a daily habit, a place for work and a source of entertainment to the extent that most of their social life is experienced online. On the Internet, people can find various ways and platforms to socialise and connect with people with same interests. In this, as discussed earlier, photography seems to be a widespread hobby. Platforms like Flickr, Pinterest and Instagram are an example of this tendency.

Considering Instagram in particular, it can be observed that the platform provides various opportunities (online photo contests and offline InstaMeets and InstaWalks discussed later) to socially interact with other users and create relationships of interests, that is the passion for photography. This might be one of the reason why many users consider Instagram as belonging to the family of social networking sites. Giulio, for example, due to his love for photography, considers Instagram a real social networking platform, rather than a pure photo gallery. He believes that the presence of photographs is precisely the reason that encourages people to engage with each other. This type of social interaction is based on the common interest in photography.

Structurally, Instagram does not offer a list of friends as other social networking sites. Instead, it offers a different type of connection among users, the ‘following’ button. In fact, the type of connection offered is the possibility to follow other people’s Instagram account, which allows users to like and comment on photographs. These types of interactions (following, liking and commenting) are publicly visible to all users by default, but they can be changed making the appropriate modifications to the privacy setting. This can give the opportunity to create private accounts where photos are visible only to the people approved by the account owner. In addition to considering Instagram as a social networking site, it is also a platform of communities of interest, where photography is easily recognised as eliciting social interactions. Broadly, communities of interest are groups of people who share common interests. They exchange ideas and support about the given passion. In fact, they do not only carry out transactions with one another, but their interactions are generally focused on specific topic areas.

Write your comment