Instagram, The Ugly.

This is third of a 3 part series introducing Instagram, its culture and platform.


A little over three years ago I had several hours of free time each day.




I don’t.


The addictive repetition of scrolling, double tapping and quick thumb dances to do edits on my mobile screen have become common actions on a daily basis. The first thing I usually do when I wake up is check my Instagram feed, the second thing is post a photo, and the third is take a photo of @pontekitty for her account.


The spare time I had has quickly become occupied by my growing interest in mobile photography and how I can grow the medium in a creative way.


With every form of social media comes a certain level of addiction that can easily become considered unhealthy. Instagram allows the average person to gain access to a platform that provides a continual source of insta-pleasure that is best described as the,


“me, myselfie and I” generation (–flux trends).


If handled incorrectly Instagram can quickly become a self-satisfying, narcissistic relationship with your photos, emotions, mobile phone and the responses you get from sharing an image. As you may imagine this can get ugly very quickly.


Towards the middle of 2013 I was following an Instagramer based in the US that posted great photos, the photos she shared gave me a sneak peek into what a middle aged mom would capture and the world around her.


Then one day, her account just disappeared.


After talking to a few friends and doing some investigation, I found out that this IGer had stopped using Instagram because it was taking time away from her marriage and her family.

Shortly after, I had a conversation with another Instagramer who had to block several other IGers in order to avoid spurts of jealousy from her husband who accused her of giving their photos more attention than his own.


He felt neglected.


I then came across some users who were using bots to gain followers on Instagram. Admittedly at first it appealed to my ego, but after researching and experimenting with these bots, my morality stepped in and I quickly realised using bots not only disrupts the ethic of Instagram’s culture, it also goes against Instagram’s T&C’s (points 15 of basic and 10 of general). Not to mention spoiling the platform for those who use it legitimately.


I quickly dissociated myself with these bots and those who used them.


These stories became more common and on a weekly basis I would hear about various scenarios, from people allowing the platform to take precedence over family and loved ones, to those users who abuse the platform with their ill use of bots. The ugly of Instagram put me off the platform – but only temporarily.


At this point I realised that the best way to combat this ugly was to give out more than take in. I began an ongoing series called #tellingmorestories (featured images) where I would post portraits of igers and share a brief story about them. I also dedicated my 1000th post to 25 igers who have inspired me along the way under the hashtag #garethpon1000series. I posted their portraits with accompanying captions of how they influenced me. Being able to post a photo for more than just likes or comments let me enjoy Instagram again and added depth to what sometimes felt shallow.


Capturing a moment is something that is not only satisfying, but also beautiful and being able to share those moments make it even more addictive. That addiction translates into occupying time and that occupied time results in a lack somewhere else in your life and just remember that time is the only thing in life we can never get back.



Do you know of any or have you experienced similar “ugly” situations on Instagram? I’d love to hear about them, feel free to share them in the comments.


Read part 1 “the good” and part 2 “the bad”



  • Nice GP! Let’s go explore Jozi again! It’s been too long since we went on our secret missions…

  • Gareth, don’t know how I haven’t come across your blog sooner, but love it (and have even bookmarked it…no pressure). And this post…awesome. It’s reminiscent of something I blogged recently ( and has helped me to finally overcome the Ugly Instagram hurdle. Shot.

    • Hi Claire :) My blog is pretty new still, so it’s really only been active as of late. Thanks so much for the kind words! I just read your blog post, love it! It’s so personal and that’s what Instagram is about :) I’ve always told ppl that the moment you post an Instagram purely for likes and comments, then it’s at that moment where your profile no longer belongs to you.

      Here’s to keeping Instagram happy! :) Thanks for reading!

  • Been to your site a couple of times hadn’t read this post, first of all am a big fan of your work, how you have managed to capture moments are the globe is just inspiring. I changed my perception of instagram when I realized its not only posting things about me but you can capture things in the world that can show your creativity and how you see the world and that’s what I decided to do, am a creative person and instagram helps me showcase that and your work inspires me. Thank you sir!! And I definitely must came meet you the next time you are in Kenya :)

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