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Sonya Sorich: Making holiday memories with Instagram

I’m spending Christmas in 1977 this year. And I don’t even need an extra parking space for my time machine.

Forget phone booths and DeLoreans. I'm reversing history with my phone.

Have you heard about this thing called Instagram?

The photo-sharing service lets you snap a picture with your smartphone and then apply different filters to make it look all artsy before sharing it with your friends.

For example, hit "Inkwell" and your photo becomes black and white. Hit "1977" and your photo gets a cool retro feel reminiscent of -- you guessed it -- 1977.

Instagram saw record use on Thanksgiving, according to a post on its official blog. It notes, "For several hours throughout the day, more than 200 photos about Thanksgiving were posted every second."

I'm guessing we'll see similar numbers on Christmas.

Maybe you've already seen a rise in Instagram-inspired conversations. Maybe you're enjoying the abundance of filter-enhanced wreaths, ornaments and Santa photos. Or, maybe you're a little annoyed.

Since when did everybody and their mother become a professional photographer?

Why is it suddenly OK to use "artsy" and "cat photo" in the same sentence?

Will anyone publicly admit your sister's baby wouldn't be nearly as cute without assistance from Instagram's "Valencia" filter?

Despite those concerns, I've succumbed to Instagram's lure. Loyal followers know it's my preferred method for posting photos of my Elf on the Shelf's favorite hiding places.

And yes, there's something mildly rewarding about turning an otherwise mediocre image into a work of art with no skills other than having fingernails short enough to hit the right button.

Instagram isn't flawless, however. Just refer to the recent drama regarding the service's Twitter integration.

On a less tangible level, there's the suggestion that photo-sharing services like Instagram actually detract from the memories they're designed to preserve.

A friend recently shared a Facebook photo displaying this message: "Time spent posting, following and liking these images are popular ways to let actual life pass us by. If we look at life through our own eyes instead of a viewfinder for a change, we might see a lot more."

Fair enough. But the "Earlybird" filter makes my dog look really, really cute. Likewise, I'll probably still apply Instagram's "1977" filter to the photos I'll take while celebrating the holidays with my family.

After all, Instagram reflects a human tendency that's deeper than technology: make a memory, then preserve it with the filter most indicative of the life you wish you had.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.

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