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What’s Unique with Instagram

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When Instagram was launched in 2010 it did not seem to offer anything new or unique compared to existing social networking sites.

Instagram offered already known features like; instant sharing, picture editing tools and combining a picture with a location.

So why did Instagram became so wildly known and used? An explanation can be that by combining these features in a single app, it made the other applications unnecessary and therefore increased the likeliness to use Instagram instead.

In this article, we will first discuss how the timestamp of Instagram is different compared to other social networking sites. Secondly, we will discuss the way filters help to make the sense of a picture from a different place or time. Subsequently, we will discuss why the timestamp and filters of Instagram contribute to a sense of timeless pictures.

Lastly, we will give a conclusion on why the sense of timelessness helped get Instagram so wildly known and used.


The most leading element that’s underlying Instagram’s structure is its dependence on geo-temporal tagging: the temporal and geographical identification of a media artifact. Of course, this is, a fixed definition, but by presenting the data in a specific media setting is what gives it its cultural ramifications and meaning.

For example, Instagram’s interface represses vertical, temporal structures in favor of spatial connectivities. Even though each picture taken by Instagram is stamped with a specific place and time, the pictures are not organized corresponding to the Gregorian calendar but by a dynamic time span. The measurement of the time element is relative between the moment of starting the app and the original date of the creation of the picture. Buy Instagram followers and likes in order to rank your picture or video higher in your followers’ feed. This means that even though the time when a picture was taken exists in the database of the software, its timestamp is dynamic because each picture has a constantly changing representation of time. As an example, if you see a picture that was taken by someone ‘2 days ago’, when you open the app tomorrow the indication will be ‘3 days ago’. Because of this, the presentation of time relative to every picture becomes evasive and remains in flux as time passes, changing from ’30 seconds ago’ to ‘3 days ago’ to ’10 weeks ago’ and so on.

In contrast to making timestamps dynamic, the interface of Instagram strongly underscores physical place and users’ locations. Instagram gives you the option to share a picture’s location publicly in two different ways. The first is that a user can tag the picture to a specific place, and then view the other pictures that were tagged there. The second option is that users do not choose to tag a picture to a place, and they can publicly share their picture’s location information on a personal photo-map. This photo-map will display all pictures taken by them on a zoomable world-map.


This way of putting space over time is strengthened by the organization of pictures within Instagram. These are presented as an everlasting stream of pictures from different users. Users will see a montage of pictures taken by all the people they follow, and so removing notions of ‘traditional’ time. This is reinforced by the filter functions of the application. Instagram allows its users to apply different tools while taking a picture or after the picture is taken. Every filter gives a different feel of a picture by adding for example contrast, grain or hues. Because of this when you take a picture of a specific place or time, you can apply a filter to let it feel like a different place or time. Some of the filters you can choose from are even named after a year.


This gives a picture which suggests three or more different temporal references which are; the time when the picture was taken, the time it appears to be by the use of a filter, and of course the time span that is indicated by Instagram when you view the picture. Even though the time of a picture is known, the software displays the pictures of multiple users from different times in a single feed, this gives a distorted feed. The result of this distorted structure of time within Instagram gives us the idea that all the pictures are from the same moment, no matter how different the pictures are or when they were taken. This makes pictures become timeless in a sense. This sense of atemporality is not only settled by the time presentation or filters from Instagram, but also by the option to instantly share your pictures. By instantly sharing a picture this sense of timelessness is boosted, because you now get a timeline in which the order of pictures can be; ‘7 days ago’, ’10 seconds ago’, ‘5 hours ago’, ’36 minutes ago’, ‘3 days ago’, ‘5 days ago’, ’12 minutes ago’. But this can be in a random order.


In this article, we began by discussing how the dynamic timestamps of Instagram influence the distorted timeline from Instagram. Secondly, we discussed how the filters can be used to make a picture sense from a different place or time than it was actually taken. Thereafter we discussed how the timestamps and filters contribute to a sense of timelessness of the pictures on Instagram. When you combine all of these sections you can give an answer to our question. Our question was why did Instagram become so wildly used and known. The answer to this is not simple, because you can never be exactly sure how something became or becomes popular. But we do have an idea. A reason a lot of starting social media applications have it though is because when you have too little content people lose interest. By hustling all the content in a distorted timeline this problem is gone. You will always have enough content to keep people interested. The downside of this is when the content is old people will think negatively about it. So it was a smart move from Instagram to make the pictures timeless, by doing this the content always seems fresh and new, even if it isn’t.

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