I made an exhibition of myself on CNN last night.
My dear friend and colleague Ramy Inocencio was proficiently analyzing Toyota’s latest earnings when, 35 seconds into his hit, a pair of arms rose up over his left shoulder. They belonged to me. And they proceeded to run the gamut of soccer-style celebrations: the fist pump, the airplane, the Saturday Night Fever 45° point… The spectacle lasted 15 seconds but, watching it back, it’s an agonizingly long 15 seconds. And the thing is, as shamelessly scene-stealing as this episode appeared to be, it wasn’t my fault. It was Instagram’s.
While the wider world obsesses over the imminent opportunity to purchase shares in Facebook, I am instead obsessing over Facebook’s latest purchase. Don’t get me wrong. I was "gramin" long before Mark Zuckerberg got his prosperous paws on the photo-sharing site. But as with any addiction, Instagram crept up on me, posing as a harmless hobby before eventually enveloping me in its allure.
My inadvertent on-air victory dance was the culmination of an Instagram contest. My fellow CNN writer Sarah and I had each captured a glorious Hong Kong sunset on our iPhones and, rather than merely enjoying the moment, we set about ensuring that others did too. Each of us posted our ‘art’ to Instagram, engaging in a hash-tagging frenzy to ensure as many "gramers" found it as humanly possible. [Not up to speed on Instagram hash-tagging? Get the knowhow here].
And so it came to pass that approximately 24 hours later, Sarah and I reconvened to compare results. Those results were as follows:
Sarah: 26 “likes”
Nicol: 41 “likes”
This discovery prompted the aforementioned air-punching, arm-flapping display of glee – observed with horror not just by my colleagues but by CNN viewers around the world. I was caught up in the moment, elated by my triumph, and absolutely ignorant of those in the newsroom who were actually attempting to work.
But here’s the thing. I shouldn’t have been. I am, in the great scheme of things, a big, fat Instagram loser.
Here at CNN International’s Asia-Pacific HQ in Hong Kong, I work alongside two individuals who are, by any estimation, Instagram demigods. At the time of writing, Tyson Wheatley, CNN.com senior editor, boasts 95,575 followers. Jethro Mullen, our newsdesk editor, lays claim to 41,771. I, by comparison, have 55 – and no new fans in recent memory.
In the eight and a half months since I popped my Instagram cherry, a measly 55 individuals have expended the insignificant effort required to press a little blue button on my page. So, come on people, what is it about my photography (untouched or touched up) that makes me so unlikeable? I’m not a needy person. I’m not an especially arrogant person. But by my reckoning I’ve done enough to deserve a following of at least 100.
I’ve tried my darndest to please you. I’ve given you sunsets, scenery and cityscapes. I’ve supplied athletes and architecture, gardens and graffiti, dancers and dragon boats, food and family portraits. The other day I even tried to show my edgy side by posting some post-weekend vomit. Not my own, I hasten to add. But my infatuation with Instagram is currently delaying my arrival at work by roughly 20 minutes each day – and only 55 lovely people and my not-so-lovely line manager care.
So, CNN fans and good citizens of the world, hear my impassioned plea. Take me up to 100 followers or at least use the space below to tell me where I’m going wrong. Because I absolutely must make that milestone. And when I do, I promise to upstage Ramy Inocencio on air once again. I won’t restrict my merriment to arm movements. There will be cartwheels, back-flips and maybe even a full moon.
Furthermore, I vow to post Instagram evidence of the event on this very blog, right before I’m given my marching orders.