Arts & Culture News

Instagram Turns 10: Putting a Filter on Dallas

Dallas makes a great backdrop for Instagram influencers.
Dallas makes a great backdrop for Instagram influencers. Matthew T. Rader/Unsplash
Instagram is turning 10. Feel old yet? The social media giant, owned by the Facebook overlords, started out as an independent app that allowed users to share candid moments of vacations, nights out and food. Lots of food.

Whether you frequent the social media platform or not, it's hard to dismiss Instagram’s cultural impact. Dallas itself has come to be known through a filtered lens with its iconic skyline and trendy, albeit gentrified, districts flooding our timelines.

Many have used the city as their backdrop to create their own influencer brands, garnering thousands of likes and follows all by shining a light on local events, restaurants and more in North Texas.

Miner Deng, known on social media as ChinaLatinaDFW, has used the platform since 2012, but for the last three years she has created an influencer brand under her ethnically diverse name. For Deng, being a multicultural influencer proved to be difficult initially; after building her brand by using trending hashtags and partaking in other social media trends, Meng’s influencer brand has grown. Now, Meng works with local establishments to promote social events and more.

Meng enhances her content visually by frequenting Dallas’ many “Instagram-worthy” murals.

“Dallas is wonderful and has so much to offer,” Meng says. “The [Dallas-Fort Worth] area has amazing artistry and extraordinary murals throughout the city.”

For Meng, Instagram is like being on the cover of your own magazine; she says it’s necessary to showcase the best version of yourself while also remaining authentic. That can be difficult for an app that glamorizes life even when it’s quite the contrary. Though Instagram is her preferred social media method, she says it’s important to set limits.

“I know that it does drain time,” Meng said. “Remember you set the limits yourself. You do have control over that.”

Lily Kramlich-Taylor and Kara Shannon, co-founders of the popular Dallasites101 blog, use the social media platform to showcase “Instagram-worthy” spots and practical recommendations, like finding the closest dentist or the best shop to get your car fixed.

“Our goal is to empower a follower to scroll our page and decide what best fits their interests, and to get off Instagram and go have fun around Dallas.” –Lily Kramlich-Taylor

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“Our goal is not for someone to scroll our feed and like posts because of how pretty they are,” Kramlich-Taylor says. “Our goal is to empower a follower to scroll our page and decide what best fits their interests and to get off Instagram and go have fun around Dallas.”

Both Kramlich-Taylor and Shannon see Instagram as a platform for mostly millennials. Being a decade old, the site has grown with the generation that was once part of the Myspace days. TikTok has become more of an outlet for Gen-Z users, and that doesn’t deter Shannon.

“Millennials are engrained on Instagram, and that is perhaps how Gen Z is with TikTok,” Shannon says. “Right now, millennials are our core audience.”

Instagram is still adapting to the times. Reels, an adaptation (or complete rip-off) of TikTok, was released earlier this year. It now also has an integration of Facebook Messenger with its direct messaging platform (a feature that's currently being rolled out to users).

Whether the filter shows the true view of what Dallas and life itself can be, Instagram has always been an outlet to share an experience. Something Shannon believes to have made an impact on her life.

“It is just really cool and crazy to think that this app meant for people sharing photos has grown to what it is today,” Shannon says. “Especially in the world we live in now where small businesses need support more than ever, we are so grateful that we have a platform to help.”
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Jacob Reyes is an arts and culture intern for the Dallas Observer. At his alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, Reyes was the life and entertainment editor for the student publication The Shorthorn. His passion for writing and reporting includes covering underrepresented communities in the arts.