Opinion: Millennials made a career out of nothing

“Millennials have shifted Instagram’s original direction, finding ways to turn their everyday selfies into dollar bills. This began when advertisers realized the appeal of putting ads on the platform, and therefore, the birth of the ‘influencer.'”

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Instagram's original purpose was to share photography, but today it is used more for comparison and careers. Credit: Francesca McKernon

Over this last month, I have been monitoring my time on social media. While there are various platforms that appeal to everyone and every mood, I found that my time was mostly spent gazing at hundreds of photos on Instagram, varying from my friends to high-profile celebrities.

One celebrity in particular was making a major storm on the social media platform;  Jennifer Aniston, an A-list celebrity had recently joined Instagram at the time and set records for the fastest to reach one million followers — five hours and 16 minutes. Although the real record should be the longest amount of time a celebrity took to join social media. Yet, as I reflected upon these thoughts it made me really think about what made Instagram so popular and how it is being used today. 

Instagram was created on Oct. 6, 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, whose original purpose was to share photography — yet in nine short years, it has an average 1 billion monthly active users. Millennials have shifted Instagram’s original direction, finding ways to turn their everyday selfies into dollar bills. This began when advertisers realized the appeal of putting ads on the platform, and therefore, the birth of the “influencer.” The instagram influencer would change how easy and cheap it would be to promote companies’ goods. 

In an era where people the same age as college students, and in some cases younger, have more credibility than individuals paid in commercials, Instagram serves as proof of the tech age’s take-over. The new era that we currently live in is is both inspiring and thrilling to be a part of, because it highlights American values subconsciously ingrained into all of us to strive to be better and want more out of life. These values are what makes America different. As we see time and time again, a new generation sets forth a new trend that is not only enjoyable, but employable. People are then able to experience a new set of privileges that weren’t there before, inspiring the next generation to dream bigger and better. 

In the age of the influencer, society relies on people that relate more to millennials and Generation Z, individuals born anywhere from 1997-2012, to sell and explain things to us. Personally, I take an interest in seeing what the people I follow are into because it introduces me to new products and ideas that I otherwise would not know about. Additionally, the influencer would perform a demo of them using the product and provide things they did or did not like which helps consumers like me take note of what I should or shouldn’t buy. 

Yet, this idea goes much further than simple beauty products being sold; people also use the Instagram platform to showcase initiatives and various programs that they support. This is evident during election season when you see many people with their ‘I voted’ stickers or influencers posting pictures of themselves with key government figures showing their advocacy and support. 

Social media as a whole has provided a way for people to actively participate and communicate in the world through just one photo or one post. Today people should look at the advantages of what social media platforms have done for us. People are now able to create their own brands and establish themselves. Social media gives people the opportunity to meet you before they actually meet you in real life. 

Therefore, platforms like Instagram are valuable in that it allows us to view people, as well as ourselves. Although social media has gotten backlash for its toxicity in the obsessive nature in which people use it, once they are reminded of the simplicity and fun nature in which it was intended, social media can once again be an enjoyable and memorable part of the beginning of the 21st century.

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