Instacode: A New Language for Digital Youth

“People show more of themselves on Tumblr. They don’t use their real names, or write personal stuff, but they blog pictures. I don’t do any written stuff because I don’t want people from school to read it… I wouldn't want them to read about my feelings and tell other people what I've been thinking… Depending on my day and how I’m feeling, I might post a dramatic picture of rain on glass.” - Digital Youth (2012)

For digital youth, participating online is a social necessity. While previous generations have the luxury of keeping their digital and physical lives separated, digital youth must stay continuously connected in order to remain informed and in-touch with their friendship groups. Digital disconnection = social death. 

However this continuous connection also means that any private conversation, comment or personal interaction, could easily be shared through their entire social network. Social success, or social distress, is only a click away.

Hence the rise of instacodes. The deep human need to express thoughts and feelings, without fear or social judgement, has given rise to a system of codes and visual metaphors that digital youth are using to express themselves secretly on platforms like Instagram and Tumblr. Instacodes let digital youth communicate private things in public places.