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Is an Instagram worth one thousand “likes” or words? 

I always thought that Instagram was a great social media network that people all over the world used in order to edit and share photographs. Since I have been abroad, I am guilty of using Instagram to capture and edit photographs in order to share them with friends and family.  As soon as I hit the “share” button I admit, I am worried and anxious about how many “likes” the image I have so carefully crafted is going to receive.  However, for Instagram users in Ukraine, this feeling about “likes” are irrelevant.

Instead of being worried about how many “likes” a photograph is going to receive, these journalists, photographers, and civilians currently in Ukraine capture photographs taken during the current and ongoing unrest. Instead of worrying about “likes” these people are just concerned about sharing these images with people to see around the world, in order to show what is really happening in Ukraine.

While I was searching for Instagram images of the crisis in Ukraine, I came across a blog post by Olena Sikorska who is editor and chief of Digital East Factor. In her post, “Kiev on Instagram: Before and After Euromaidan”she displays multiple Instagram images captured and documented by people in Ukraine during this terrible time.  The Instagram images that Sikorska has chosen display how rapidly Ukraine, and the lives of people living in Ukraine, has changed just from late 2013 to early 2014.  The images are truly shocking.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 2.45.58 PM

Image is a screengram from Digital Eastfactor 

As I continued searching online for more images captured in Ukraine and shared on Instagram, I found a New York Times articlewritten by journalist C.J. Chivers.  The article, “Is That an R-330Zh Zhitel on the Road in Crimea?” talks about how Russia has implemented new military equipment in Crimea.  Chivers explains that he saw Russian military with, “new or specialized firearms, and state-of-the-art electronic jamming equipment being transported along the Crimean roads.”  How did Chivers prove and document that this was happening? He used Instagram.

While he was in Crimea, Chivers examined the new and high-tech military equipment used by Russian forces and documented it by taking photographs on his iPhone.  He would then immediately share these images of Russian military forces on Instagram so the public could see these images.  Additionally, once Chivers posted these photographs, the images would automatically save on to the Instagram account.

This goes to show how useful social media, in this case specifically Instagram, has been in documenting and displaying the current and ongoing crisis in Ukraine.  It is as if Instagram is now a tool in photojournalism.  Although news reports, articles, and Tweets have been very powerful and informative during this terrible time in Ukraine, I believe that a picture speaks louder than words.  As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and in Ukraine’s case, even more.  These powerful images captured throughout Ukraine show just how awful the current crisis and conditions are. Thanks so social media sites like Instagram, people in Ukraine can continue sharing the ongoing and social unrest.

Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Vladimir Yaitskiy

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One thought on “Photographs of Ukraine Posted on Instagram

  1. Hope:

    I really enjoyed this blog post! I think you bring up an important idea about social media being used for documentation, not just spreading or sharing information. There’s a school of thought in communication studies called media ecology that says that communication technologies act as extensions of the human senses, making these technologies the primary agent for social change. We’ve talked a lot in class about to what extent social media is a catalyst for uprisings such as the Arab Spring and the Euromaidan protests, but I think it’s more significant to think about all the information that’s being collected, so we can learn about these events in the future. For example, did you know that you can download all of your content from Facebook at any time (photos, messaging conversations, timeline posts, etc.), and the site will prompt you to do so if you choose to deactivate your account? Something like that made me realize that social media is for more than just sharing, it’s for making and recording history.

    I also think it’s significant that you chose to focus on Instagram instead of Facebook or Twitter. According to a few articles I found, Instagram is the fastest-growing social media site right now, especially in non-English speaking countries. Instagram is one of the only social networks that I know of (except maybe Snapchat, which is technically only mobile) that is more mobile-friendly than PC-friendly. This makes it a powerful tool for citizen activists and journalists to capture the world around them in real time, so that professional activists and journalists can keep their finger on the pulse of social and cultural movements. I remember joining Instagram because I saw my friends posting pictures on Facebook with really cool-looking filters on them. I had no idea it was a social networking site, I just wanted the ability to edit my photos. But now, it’s one of my favorite ways to see what my friends are doing, no matter where in the world they are. Maybe Instagram is turning us all into amateur photojournalists, just eager to log and broadcast what’s going on in the world around us!

    Carolyn

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