Kendall Langrell | Staff Writer
In the age of social media, older generations like to remind us millennials that the world does not revolve around Instagram likes. The world does not revolve around the selfies that are taken in front of a dirty bathroom mirror, the world does not revolve around which celebrity is tagged in our photos and the world definitely does not revolve around the enviable locations our photos are taken.
But what if your world did revolve around these things?
In Columbus, Ohio, one user’s Instagram followers spiked when he started featuring his hilarious grandmother in his videos.
During his junior year at the University of Dayton, Ross Smith began to make and upload videos to the social media video app, Vine.
“Next thing I know, I got 300,000 followers on Vine and decided to focus more on social media,” Smith said. He later made his transition to Instagram after the app introduced minute-long video uploads, which gave Smith the opportunity to express himself on a longer platform.
Today, Smith has gained over 2.5 million Facebook followers, one million Snapchat followers and one million Instagram followers.
As for feeling the pressure social media fame can bring, Smith said he feels pressured every day he does not make a video, saying, “I feel like I am letting people down.” However, producing great video content has not always proven easy or exciting.
“I get frustrated when I cannot think of a new idea since I brainstorm everything myself,” Smith said.
Like any other profession, Smith said his occupation is not for the fame, but to leave his mark on the world. He does this because of the positivity followers feel when watching his humorous videos.
“I love motivating people to do positive things, but I am more just here to make content and make people laugh and smile,” Smith said.
His videos have not only had a positive impact on his followers, but also his grandmother who stars in most of them.
“Well, I am going through some happy times,” Smith’s 90-year-old grandmother said. “It is a new adventure in my life.”
At the end of the day, Smith does not ask much of his followers other than to enjoy their day.
Azusa Pacific also has a few Instagram-famous students, including some who are active on their profiles and others who have since deleted theirs. A student from the latter is junior computer science major and graphic design minor David Bartholomew.
Bartholomew became popular on the app back when it first launched in 2010. “It was my freshman year in high school. I just saw the app on the app store and thought, ‘Oh this looks kind of cool,’” Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew’s uploads consisted mostly of his professional photography, with his first photo one of his puppy running at the park with a stick in his mouth.
In his opinion, Instagram-fame is in fact empowering for both the user and his/her followers. “The feedback I would get was cool; they would ask me for advice in editing or taking photos,” Bartholomew said. “It’s empowering when people ask me for help.”
As empowering as he thought Instagram to be, Bartholomew has since deleted his Instagram account.
“I deleted my Instagram freshman year in college [spring 2015], but I stopped using it around my senior year in high school,” Bartholomew said. “I liked it when it was more of the art showcasing, just about expressing yourself.”
Deleting his Instagram was an impulse decision. Bartholomew explained he just wanted to be be done with the app once it slowly transformed into a more social medium. However, Bartholomew did not quit his art along with Instagram. Instead, he turned his passion into a business. With a new photography and videography gig back home in Merced, Calif., one of his recent clients included an ambulance company. “I got to fly up in this medevac helicopter and take aerial shots for a recruitment film project,” Bartholomew said.
Instagram empowerment can be positive or negative. It can leave the user feeling inspired by feedback or pressured to be better.
One self-taught travel photographer and videographer has loved everything about his Instagram experience-turnedprofession. With over 66,100 Instagram followers, traveler Clint Johnston believes the app gives everyone power.
It gives users “the power to introduce or suggest destinations, dispel misconceptions about a country and become an expert in their industry,” Johnston said. “I often ask for suggestions when I am traveling to new destinations. This turns them into the expert and gives them the chance to share their favorite places.”
For Johnston, Instagram is a community and he just enjoys being a part of it. This sense of social media community could be one of the purest forms of Instagram empowerment, and Johnston’s hope is that he, “can help others travel and maybe offer a little travel inspiration along the way.”