What the f@#k is Self-Branding?

By: Onoriode Akporotu

Last night, at about 2:30am, during one of my reoccurring insomniac moments, I ventured to make an elaborate post commemorating my long dead grandmother. This post consisted of 27 blank, white and black pictures depicting nothing. I uploaded all these within a span of 5 minutes. Any follower of mine would have had to continuously scroll through a number of these blank photos as they went down their photo stream. When I woke up at 8:30am this morning, I was not surprised to see I had lost 9 followers. The rate at which I lost these followers got me thinking; what is the purpose of Instagram?

I am reminded of an encounter I had a few weeks back…

On any given day, one could find me suffering through ostentatiously written texts, alone, within some orifice at the library. For the first time, I had decided to read out on the Voorhees lawn over at College Avenue. As I laid there on the plush green grass, drifting off into thoughts of things I’d rather be doing, I caught the glance of a rather fair maiden, Joann. My heart immediately began to palpitate. I am a typically calm and composed individual but Joann tilted the scale in every category. She was tall with light, welcoming, eyes and displayed a smile which belonged in a Colgate commercial. Already heavily distracted and falling asleep, I got up and tentatively approached her. Our conversation about the 13th century poem she was reading went swimmingly. As I turned to galumph away, my stomach in complete knots, having been anxious to request her number, she utters, “Are you on Instagram?”

An interesting remark. Why hadn’t she inquired about my phone number?

Instagram is no longer a place for creative expression. An increasing amount of teenage and early adult members of the site have begun shifting the once simple photo sharing application, a more user friendly Flickr, towards a new terrain for “Self-Branding.”

Joann wanted my Instagram details in order to observe how well I had branded myself. I would imagine if she simply saw replete rows of blank, white and black photographs, she would instantly lose interest. Blank white and black photos are boring. They are neither sexy, nor funny; they do not allow for habitual stalking and reflect nothing about the user’s person, his/her life experiences. We present to the world, through Instagram, a more interesting portrayal of ourselves.

Look at this awesome event I am at; don’t you wish you could be here?

    I am surrounded by six ‘bad b*tches;’ don’t you wish you could be me?

    I wear Hermes belts and stand in front of luxury cars; I got money, and you don’t.

Self-Branding: selectively partaking in, and then displaying certain activities so that we appear to be fascinating individuals. We have reached the apex of capitalism where our lives and experiences are now commodities to be branded.

I beseech you to be introspective and reflect on what Instagram does and means to you. When you do that, ask yourself…

    When did you last flex on the gram?

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