Instagram is my happy place. I open my feed to escape from the real world, to forget about current events, to fill my heart and soul with beautiful things that I want to look at for hours on end. It's for this very reason that I jumped for joy when I found out that as of Dec. 12, Instagram users will no longer be limited to following people and places — you now have the power to follow hashtags, too.
While it may seem like a logical extension of the Instagram app, it's actually a total and complete game changer. No longer will you have to aimlessly click through profiles until you find what you're looking for; instead, all you need to do is type one hashtag — an interest, a hobby, a passion, a place — and from there, an entire world of images and videos is right before your very eyes. A hashtag will no longer be an aimless branding tool, instead serving as a gateway to more of what you want to see, more often. There's even a "related hashtags" section that will keep you clicking in the right direction any time you open the app.
"For the first time ever, Instagram community members will be able to follow hashtags just like they follow their friends," Matt Ogle, product manager for Interests at Instagram, told POPSUGAR in an exclusive statement. "We're excited to create new and easy ways for people to keep up with their hobbies and passions and discover accounts, right from their feed. Instagram is making interests — and the communities that form around them — a big focus, and following hashtags is our first step."
Ahead, we've broken down how the feature works — but it's important to note that following a hashtag doesn't mean you're tied to it for life. The best thing about the new feature, overall? It encourages exploration of new areas you never knew existed, while at the same time letting it be a wholly noncommittal (and oh so enjoyable) experience. And at the end of the day, that makes us love Instagram all that much more.