Photo-sharing applications such as Facebook and Instagram are excellent tools that allow users to share personal experiences. It is no coincidence that Facebook asks the question, “What’s on your mind?” where users write statuses; this question presumes that the user always has something to share. Moreover, since it is an open-ended question, users can answer in any number of ways; the question frames the forum as an environment of unrestricted content. This is why users have no problem writing a post that requires friends to click the “read more” option on Facebook; they are virtually given permission to share everything they are feeling in that moment without judgment.
A benefit of these applications is that they give users a chance to communicate through photos with friends and family who may not live nearby, so it feels like friends and relatives are still connected in the users’ lives. Another plus with these applications is the quick, accessible information. Such applications can be used for networking purposes, professionally and socially, because users are communicating to a vast group of people.
But there is another side to these apps. Even though photo sharing applications offer some benefits to their users, there are definite negative elements. One of the damaging aspects is that users can present a distorted image on these applications. Users may have the desire to promote a misleading image because in their daily lives they may not feel comfortable being their true selves around their loved ones. Thus, users might pretend to be someone else on their profile to escape their reality. Or, a user may wish to have specific characteristics, and it may seem easier to live out these qualities online. It also does not help that these applications in a sense force their users to portray themselves in a particular light; in photos, a user might portray herself at times as happy, sad, angry, or excited. Thus, some users mainly post photos that cause friends and followers to perceive them in a specific way through the usage of body language, emoticons, capitalization, or punctuation.
This is when photo-sharing applications become a tool for self-promotion, because some members can only post images that visually showcase their ideal image, not their authentic image. I urge users to enjoy the benefits that photo-sharing applications offer, and in addition, I challenge users to become more conscious of the image they are portraying. Seek to do this by making an effort to strive for authenticity in your posts and in your photos.