Since Instagram’s initial release six years ago, it has become one of the most popular social media platforms. With 600 million active users, people continue to use the photo-sharing app, motivated by social interaction, archiving, self-expression, escapism and peeking. I had the great opportunity of interviewing Alexa Fernando, an Instagram user with a following of 14.5 thousand, to hear about her own motivations and thoughts about the app.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are your passions? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Myself? Well, I am quite all over the place, living in different cities as well as taking various specializations. I was born in the Philippines, but I also grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2009, my family migrated to Calgary while I moved to Vancouver for school. I have a BA in Spanish, Minor in Chinese from UBC. Then, in 2014, I moved to Toronto to pursue my passion in culinary arts. I went to George Brown for their Culinary Nutrition program, and it taught me more about life than it is about the kitchen. Halfway through, I applied for the Master of Digital Media program in Ryerson. I just graduated from both programs last year! I am an all-around digital creative and culinary artist.
Spare time? What’s that? *laughs*. When your world revolves around digital and social media, you rarely get “free” time. Your mind is always working!
(What an exciting and adventurous life! Haha, how can I be like you?? But seriously, I think it’s great that you’re able to showcase your passions for culinary arts and digital media through Instagram.)
Image Source: @ajfernando
What inspired you to make an Instagram account? Why did you choose that social media platform? What do you like/dislike about it?
I honestly can’t remember how I stumbled upon the app! Probably someone shared on Facebook? Or maybe Tumblr! I joined sometime in 2012 while I was in my third year of undergraduate study. As a visual artist, I initially liked how the app emphasized on images. I got to document my life in photos and through Instagram I was able to tell my story better by showing it.
What do you hope to do with your Instagram account? What are your goals?
My Instagram has always been a place for me to document the everyday stories of my life. It’s a visual diary of the places I’ve been, the food I’ve tried or cooked, the things I’ve achieved or failed, the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned. By sharing these stories, I hope to connect people to other cultures, communities and opportunities. My goal is to inspire others to do more beyond the app.
(Seeing Alexa’s photos always makes me think “I wish I was eating that right now” or “I definitely need to visit that place”. Whatever the photo is, it makes me excited about life and all the things I have yet to see and do.)
Image Source: @ajfernando
What did you expect when you first made your Instagram account? Did you ever think it would become what it is today?
Instagram seemed like a cool platform and I thought it was just one of those apps that was trendy for a while but eventually die out. I never would have imagined it turn into this huge marketing platform and brands taking over.
Why do you think Instagram has become so popular? What separates it from other social media?
Instagram has become popular because it is mobile-first and based on visuals. Our attention span is getting shorter, and the fastest way to get a message across is through a photo. It allows people to absorb (or assess) information easier. For me, the one thing that really separates it from other social media is its community. People share their photos/videos to connect beyond their circles.
(Agreed! I feel a real sense of community but also freedom in that I am always discovering new people and accounts to follow.)
Image Source: @ajfernando
How do you see Instagram in the future? In which ways do you think it will or will not change?
I think the first few generations of Instagram will start to get bored. The platform is getting so populated and with the new algorithm, it’s hard to navigate through the noise of curated and organic content. Instagram as an app won’t change but the reasons of why people are on the app will change.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a successful Instagrammer?
Don’t focus on being successful on Instagram. Focus on being successful in life and share those experiences, both the losses and the wins.
(I definitely needed this advice! Sometimes I get caught up in trying to do this or that and forget to enjoy myself.)
Instagram is not only a place to post photos. It has transformed into a platform that allows people to express themselves artistically and connect with others through pictures. Looking at Alexa for inspiration, use Instagram to showcase yourself, your passions, and your experiences.
After the interview, I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for Instagram content creators. It was a great experience to be able to talk to someone and know more about them, after having just seen them through their account. I was also reminded that while content creators have a lot of followers, work with cool brands and lead great lives, they are still people, like you and me, who have stories to tell “beyond the ‘gram”.