Pope Francis got an Instagram this week and I think I might be the most excited one about it.
I wonder if St. Peter, the very first pope, thought that a pope would ever have an Instagram account. I wonder if St. Peter is up there at the gates of heaven thinking about which filter he would have used for his popes. I also wonder if God’s sitting up there, happy that there’s finally someone who deserves to use #blessed.
But let this just marinate for a second. Social media is so impacting that one of the most powerful figures in the religious world succumbed to one. I’m picturing it now, Pope Franny sitting on his golden chair with his pointy hat squinting at the screen asking the nearest altar boy to “help him with this computer thing.” I guess a truly honest question is why? Why would the head of the Catholic Church need an Instagram?
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat I grudgingly admit, take over most of my life. I’ve tried to take breaks from it, claimed being disconnected from it made me focus on myself…the whole Eat Pray Love bit. But the truth is, I don’t know if I could live without it. Call me content obsessed and I wouldn’t tell you you’re wrong. And that’s where the hate comes in, I hate how dependent I am on social media. More importantly I hate how dependent my future is on social media. For those of you that haven’t found this out already through various internships and jobs, in everyone else’s eyes being a millennial means you’re automatically a social media expert. It’s that magic word potential employers want to hear. They hear millennials and a quick reel of hash tags, impressions, and potential business flash through their heads. What most of us tech-savvy millennials don’t understand is the potential power there is in the social media marketplace. Millennials understand social media on a technical and functional level. We know how to post a tweet, boost a post on Facebook, and that no matter how many times you try, you cannot zoom in on an Instagram picture (mom). Employers that aren’t as familiar with the technicalities, see the bigger picture. They see that social media is much more powerful than us millennials can understand.
Let me give you an example. January 11, 2016 Kendrick Lamar, arguably one of the most influential artists of this time, posted a picture in the Oval Office with President Barrack Obama. The caption reads, “Hood Politics.” The picture has over 200k impressions. Comments include things like, “The two men this country need” and “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen.” Lamar looks small and humbled next to President Obama as the two look at a picture on the wall of the office. Looking at the surface, one doesn’t realize the influence this picture had. Get your scuba tanks on ladies and gentlemen because it’s about to get so much deeper. This post brought together two worlds that seem completely separate. Fans of Lamar might have looked at this picture and see a different side of President Obama, a President they could like, a President they could trust. Obama seems human, relatable, someone I would want to get a beer and talk about sports with. Suddenly, through this picture, fans that weren’t even thinking about politics have gained a positive opinion of Obama. All with just one Instagram post.
Obama’s “personal” account is tagged in the picture. The account is run by Obama’s “Organizing for Action Committee” which I’m guessing is a bunch of millennials that have the internship of a lifetime. The account shows promotional images, but also shows sides of President Obama I’ve never seen before. There’s a #tbt picture of Obama and the First Lady’s wedding day captioned, “You and I.” There’s a picture of him laughing in the car as people try and sneak a picture of him. And if you scroll as long as I did, there’s a picture of President Obama hugging Bruce Springsteen captioned, “Boss Hug.” I thought my heart was going to explode.
And as I tried to keep in my excitement about seeing Bruce Springsteen, I realized social media accounts by powerful, influential people aren't for themselves, they're for us. It’s their chance to show us regulars that they’re human too. All politics aside, I never knew what Obama was personally like. He seemed like a smart, well-educated man of power. He also seemed cold, robotic, dedicated to keep the world spinning and that’s it. But just through his Instagram feed, I can tell that he’s really not so different from the rest of us.
Millennials understand social media, but what most of us don’t understand is that it all lies in our hands. Think about it, the President of the United States made a Instagram for you. For you to get to know him better. Pope Francis learned how to use a cell phone app for you. To give you an insight into the Catholic Church and what his daily life is like. Social media has become so much more than 140 characters; it’s become an open marketplace, an open channel connecting people to things and ideas that they weren’t thinking of before.
Be honest how many of those Tasty videos have you watched? If you’re anything like me, I’ve seen around 100 and have made absolutely zero. Those videos have by no means made me a better chef, but they have made me learn what a Baked Alaska is, or that you can literally put avocado on any sort of dish. How many new albums have you listened to just because your friend shared a link? How many abroad picture albums have you clicked through, eventually deciding that wherever they went was somewhere you wanted to eventually travel to? Thanks to an abroad album, I’ve decided Croatia is the prettiest place on Earth and I must go.
My dream job is to be a music editor for the online magazine Pitchfork. All because a friend of mine retweeted an album review of theirs five years ago. I‘ve been a loyal fan ever since. Whenever you sign up for a social media account there should be a link to a video of Uncle Ben from Spiderman saying, “With great power comes great responsibility." Most of us don’t understand how much impact we have or could have. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to need to find a ladder that will help me get off of this soapbox I’ve climbed on top of.