It's time to end the tyranny.
Once a year, families across America gather to celebrate the best things in life, the things for which they are thankful. But whip out the possession for which you are most thankful — your phone — and some relatives may wag a finger in admonishment.
You might assume the best course of action at such a time would be to stand down and apologetically return the phone to your pocket. Nonsense! We live in a social media society, and Thanksgiving meals deserve to be Instagrammed. Indeed, they must be Instagrammed, and by God, they shall! And it is incumbent upon you, budding Instagram superstar, to wage a campaign to convince your family that Thanksgiving ain't Thanksgiving unless it's documented, filtered, and shared.
What follows is the product of an ongoing effort to convey the value of social sharing to family members. These secrets have long been closely guarded, but it's time to share them. And so, without any further delay, here it is: a guide to Instagramming your Thanksgiving dinner without being disinvited to your grandma's funeral.
Step 1: Lay the Groundwork
The first step to gaining acceptance for your Instagram activities is soft selling your family on why Thanksgiving is enhanced by social sharing. This requires a plan. Hope is no strategy. Use any number of these common selling points:
* This meal is so great, why keep it to ourselves?
* My filter can make your turkey look less overcooked.
* Thanksgiving is about our happiness, and this is how I get mine.
* The neighbors follow me on Instagram, and I want to shove this awesome meal in their faces.
* The second largest industry in America behind porn is food porn. (This is unconfirmed, so fact-check with Wikipedia beforehand if you plan to use it.)
* I'm not holding a phone, I'm holding the one object linking together all of humanity.
* I could be on a pot delivery service, OK? You should be happy I'm doing this instead.
Step 2: Build Allies
You're going to need a group of core supporters to quash dissent among any social media haters that may remain after your soft sell. First on the list: Grandma.
Pull your grandmother aside and tell her how amazing she is. Then form what will likely be your most important alliance. Tell her this: "Grandma, the only way I will remember you is by putting you in the cloud. When you go up to the cloud, and I'm down here, we can both share these memories together."
Now, pull your pops aside, tell him this: "Father, my Instagram is a modern-day version of your Vivitar 2 MP Digital Camcorder with 4X Digital Zoom. And I never gave you any shit about that. I need you on my side here."
Now attempt to win over two to three other dinner attendees. Push the nostalgia factor. Show filters that make your Instas look like they were shot in the '70s. Explain that this is for the common good. If things get desperate, consider paying them off.
Make sure your allies are reliable. This is critical. You'll need their support in the event of a dispute.
Step 3: Demonstrate Value by Appealing to Vanity
The magic of Instagram is the filter. Put Valencia on a garbage bin and it will look positively artistic. Put Sutro on a booger and you're guaranteed 50 likes — at least. And XPro? Let's not even get started.
Turn any of these filters on your relatives and they'll feel like celebrities. Get your Aunt Lilly to selfie and select her own filter, and her smile will illuminate the room. And Aunt Lilly doesn't smile.
Give your sister's awkward new boyfriend Ned the honor of photographing the turkey. Tell him the picture looks great and let him post it. Then delete it. The photo was terrible. But now Ned loves you! Tell your sister to dump him immediately following the meal.
See, we're making progress here. You should be feeling far more confident about keeping your phone on the table than you did when you walked in the room. Enjoy your newfound phone freedom by taking it for a spin: Hop on Tinder. Hang out on Snapchat. Open your fantasy football app and relish the fact that Tony Romo is blowing yet another critical game.
Now buckle up, the next step will take some guts.
Step 4: Use the "What I'm Thankful For" Line to Promote Your Social Presence
At some point during the festivities, your relatives will announce what they're thankful for. Many will cite family and health. You will not. This moment is too precious for a silly throwaway line.
When your turn arrives, take a deep breath, and make the following declaration of unyielding loyalty to the socialverse:
"I, [insert your name], am thankful for social photo sharing, the most epic innovation of our lifetime. Photos bring the world's population together at a time when forces everywhere seek to divide us. They allow us to behold our common humanity, with no language barrier ripping us apart. Some people say a photo is worth 1,000 words, but I say a properly exposed photo with contrast turned all the way up and 25% vignette has the ability to solve this world's problems. I'm thankful for Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom, two giants of our time, who stayed the course in the face of adversity, and didn't fuck up Instagram like Yahoo did to Flickr. I am thankful they hewed to a reasonable valuation and avoided the overinflated private markets, so that their dreams and our dreams could thrive untroubled by pressure from the Twitter hivemind. Instragram makes the world a better place; it makes it a world in which I am thankful to live."
Practice this speech in front of a mirror at least five times before dinner. Focus! An earnest delivery is crucial.
Step 5: Finish off the Resistance
At this point, your Uncle Bob will likely pull you aside, put his arm uncomfortably around your shoulder and neck, and ask you when you're going to get a real job instead of playing around on the "social medias." Can you believe this guy? Everyone knows your Aunt Maureen hates him; she's only putting up with him until cousins Ulysses and Figaro go to college. And why is he wearing sweatpants?
Show Uncle Bob no mercy — NONE. Come armed with the facts and definitively dispatch this piddling dissent from your family's most disliked member. Look Uncle Bob in the eyes, and tell him about the money top Instagram photographers are raking in making branded content. Tell him an Instagram photographer with a mere 100,000 followers can make up to $900 per photo promoting a product. Wait a beat and then tell him that some Instagram photographers make up to $8,000 a photo. Savor the look on his face.
Real job, Uncle Bob? Make it clear that you are after that brand money and when it inevitably starts to pour in, he's not going to see a single dollar. Case closed.
Step 6: Snap Away
Ah, victory. Now you can get down to business.
To create a perfect Thanksgiving Instagram, Quartz recommends using a recent iPhone model, snapping food photos in natural light, enhancing them with advanced filtering apps like VSCO Cam, and occasionally taking pictures of stuff other than the food. You worked hard for this, enjoy the moment.
Are you ready for some of this?
And some of this?
And a little of this?
Yes. Yes you are.
Happy Thanksgiving, America.
Additional reporting by Barry Kantrowitz.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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