Instagram, Doughnuts, and What it Means to be Popular

By Jaclyn Jermyn

I’ve had my Instagram account since early 2011—I like to think that somehow makes me ahead of the curve since the app was launched in October of 2010. In a way, I’ve watched it evolve and through it, I’ve watched myself grow up. A lot has changed—I started with a first generation iPod Touch in a hot pink case—and some things don’t—five years later and I still take a lot of pictures of my socks and dogs.

If we look at the apps we’ve had for the longest amount of time, it’s not hard to consider the relationship we have with our technology. Like any good relationship, our needs evolve over time. I went from using Instagram to edit grainy photos to put on Tumblr to cultivating and curating my view of the world. And like any relationship, once in awhile, you may find yourself seeking attention.

For the past two years I have had one elusive social media goal—I want to qualify for Popular Pays. For those of you don’t know, Popular Pays is a perfectly crafted marketing ploy that sets small items from local businesses (think a biscuit from Bang Bang Pie or a slice of pizza from Dimos) as rewards for Instagram users posting pictures of their treasures and tagging the store and their company. The only catch is that each reward has a qualifying number of followers tacked on to it. For those of you who do know what I’m talking about, you’re probably either in the same boat that I’m in—pining away for free stuff or you’ve already made it and you’re rolling in free doughnuts. Congrats if so. 



Why do I want free doughnuts so badly? Well, to be fair, I really do love doughnuts but I’ve bought plenty of doughnuts on my own accord before and it hasn’t done extensive damage to my bank account or my psyche. But with my 460-something follower count, I have been deemed “not popular enough to deserve free stuff,” and damn if that isn’t a weird psychological blow when you think about it.

I will be the first to admit that I probably spend too much time on Instagram but I find it hard not to have plenty of excitement about seeing the personal worlds of strangers and friends alike. These are the things that people want to share. Here’s what people are eating. This is where people are living. If I do something that I think was beautiful, I don’t feel silly for posting multiple times a day. Last year when I road-tripped to 16 states in a week, I was posting pictures constantly. I wanted people to share some of the raw joy I was feeling waking up in the Grand Canyon or playing in the Pacific Ocean. 

So it’s not all bad. I may be crossing my fingers daily that I get a sudden influx of followers and I can achieve arbitrary entrance into the “cool-kids-club” but while I wait that out, I’ve found a way to share my life with people, wherever they are. Screw authenticity—who doesn’t like a little validation occasionally?

Also, follow me on Instagram @tinyhorsestatue and maybe one day I can share my free doughnuts with you.