Are Clicks Destroying Creativity? Or Why Do All Popular Instagram Accounts Look Alike?

By Kehl Bayern / August 1, 2018

Social media has brought a lot of benefits to creators in terms of new avenues for exposure and networking but it also has systematized the whole process to a degree that might have contributed to the overall feeling of “sameness” one gets as they scroll through Facebook or Instagram.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had the thought: “Why do the same things get so many likes when they’re absolutely devoid of originality and creativity?”

One reason for this convergence can probably be explained by imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.

That is, users are copying styles and photo compositions from other users that they like.

As the number of Instagram users grows, this will only become increasingly the case as more and more people are exposed to varied styles. In this process, even unique forms of photography will eventually become universalized in some way because that’s the nature of exposure. We don’t copy people who aren’t successful or that we don’t like, and this is writ large on social media that thrives on creative input.

The second, more depressing, reason is that some styles of photography (or Facebook post, or what have you) get “better analytics” than others. For marketers this is pretty much all that matters, artistic style be damned.

How many clicks, shares, likes, retweets, comments, etc. dominate the conversation about these photos and this analysis can also lead to homogenized output because, again, people are copying what’s successful.

To expose this trend, @insta_repeat is an Instagram account that shows just how similar photos can be on Instagram. From the “Back of SUV in the wild with feet in frame” genre to the “Centered Bridge” milieu, @insta_repeat leaves no stone passed over in its quest to expose just how similar we all are while trying to stand out on Instagram.

Some photos might be because of artistic convergence, others might be explained by analytics, and then the rest could just be because it is a classic style of photo.

Tell us what you think in the comments below?


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About the author

Kehl Bayern

Kehl Bayern is our staff news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing. In terms of photography, he is interested in architecture and modern design. Kehl Bayern is also the author of science fiction thriller Animus Proxy. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts and studied politics at the University of Virginia and, later, Harvard University for graduate school. He spends much of his time traveling up and down the east coast of the United States. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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