Ancient Egyptians had hieroglyphics that told stories of their daily rituals. Greeks left behind relics that outlined their colloquial and spiritual beliefs. Persians left behind volumes of libraries and poetry and even later time periods like Renaissance and Baroque artwork led one to understand the strongest trends, and shifts in culture and lifestyle.
And thus it is with this preface, that I shamefully would assert that few items, can so appropriately indicate the dominant characteristics of modern day society as the artifact that is: The Instagram Logo
I know it has changed, but here it is, in all its glory; the original version. The logo itself is of course a picture of a camera lens. It is a perfect square and draws the attention to the corner where the primary colors of the rainbow have been placed and just beneath, with invited unassuming rounded lovable corners, in a simple and bold text; the words... (drumroll)
This simplistic design is the essence of what society in our modern day embodies: Instant Gratification. A camera (visually designed to resemble our mobile phones), modeled after the very essence of what dominates our society.
It can be argued that this symbol is (unfortunately OR fortunately) JUST as powerful as:
Any hieroglyph left form the past,
Any stick figure drawn during the monolithic age,
and Any Renaissance painting.
Because it can accurately let the world that comes after this modern day know that we in the here and now are beginning to deeply govern the existence of our being and everything we do around this basic notion of immediate and instant gratification. This is so much so that it has infected our very psyche, our anxiety levels, and our operating mechanisms.
Instagram is just the symbol for this tell all media that let’s us know that if it takes more than a snapshot to explain, it is not worth investing in. The inter-relatedness of all these trends cannot go unnoticed in music, whether you choose the visual packaging of what music was and is, all the way down to the actual product or song itself. Visually, there used to have be big ornate, records, with in depth artwork that was as much part of the fun and joy of owning and collecting as hearing the actual music. The cover’s of those 45’s were like pantings and masterpieces in their own right. Of course, there were a series of transitions from records to, 8 track, to cassette tape. Then, the transition to CD’s (where the box got even smaller and the data slimmer). Smaller artwork, smaller print, smaller package. From there, to mp3's where the relevancy of the artwork as a whole, was for the most part completely eliminated and the only transmission date came from the audio mp3 itself. This same trend was evident in the way, there used to be albums as the dominant body of work and slowly the trend has steered away from albums and is focused completely around singles. 1 song. 1 rush. Only room for storing 1 theme. Everything is being simplified and stripped down. This Insta - trend plays a role in everything from our music to even how we structure our relationships. The choices are abundant, and the work seems un-necessary to those who "feel" like there are 100 names behind a 100 simple swipes.
The industry wives tale of the story of that artist sitting in a room where you have 15 seconds within pushing play (30 at most) to make or break your entire universe and impress the ears sitting across the table and in that short time, these ears are determinant of whether your song is a “hit”.
This creates a false sense that even the most meaningful things we covet dearly like: relationships, success, wealth, happiness; known for taking time, patience, and growth; Should come easy. And if they don’t, we no longer are willing to put in the work and the effort for the boundless reward of such dedication.
Our entire culture has shifted to adapt this idea of Insta-gratification. So, the timeless adage of, “When the going get’s tough, the tough get going” has a whole new interpretation in this Insta-world where now, if something is “too hard” or doesn’t come “quick enough” or “soon enough”, we are less likely to have the patience to stick it out. Our attention spans have decreased and every media trend reflects this shrinking attention span.
From things like “hashtags” that immediately identify to our audience the core of what our aim is in a single word. All the way to other media gauntlets that reflect our societal A.D.D. Twitter, allows for only 140 characters to summate an update in and on one’s life. Facebook wholly contracts the totality of wisdom found in one of society’s favorite sayings, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and in facts invites one to do just that.
We have become campaigns of ourselves.
Our profiles are inviting us to; in fact do, judge the whole book by the face on the cover. Snapchat is another medium where the media message, audio, video, picture literally disappears the seconds after it’s sent.
The fleeting and temporal. The loss of distinction between emotional ranges, and of course, the mother of all indicators for where we place value: A picture is all we need for the whole story. If by change, it happens to be a video, 15 seconds is our ideal length. The days where someone would risk the whole of their integrity for vive minutes of fame are LONG gone. Today fifteen seconds will do just fine.