Instagram, Toilet Flushing, and Tea Kettles

Shared experiences continue to be quantified. Most recently Instagram informed us that we used their tool to post more than 10 million photos relating Thanksgiving-themed words during the holiday:

“For several hours throughout the day, more than 200 photos about Thanksgiving were posted every second. Overall, the day broke all Instagram records as we saw the number of shared photos more than double from the day before, making it our busiest day so far.”

While the company’s statement provides a high water mark in an effort to further legitimize the popularity of their tool it may also satisfy our individual need to feel connected through popular action.

In an odd way it reminds me of the oft-quoted urban myth regarding mass toilet flushings during popular broadcast events such as a Super Bowl or the M*A*S*H finale. While that legend has been debunked related events are tallied up for our benefit including the National Grid’s accounts of power surges in Great Britain during popular episodes of EastEnders and Coronation Street.

These announcements hold little mystery once considered. It’s not a shock that after watching a popular show, people open the doors of their refrigerators or put on the electric kettle for a good ol’ English cuppa.

In Instagram’s case, of course we capture the moment as we gather family and friends around the table to enjoy a festive meal. Given Instagram’s ease of use the statistic makes sense although it would satisfy my own curiosity if they released more data. Does this record mark a higher adoption rate, an increase in photos only, or a combination of both?

Regardless, it’s more amazing that we find satisfaction solely in these announcements as they work to legitimize our actions through data. After all, isn’t Thanksgiving about our individual gratitude?


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