Instagram Network Folklore In The Light Of The Linguosynergetics


It is not by chance that the network folklore is being thoroughly investigated by culturologists, linguists, sociologists, psychologists. After all, folklore is a reflection of "folk wisdom", aesthetic and cultural views, enquiries and interests of its creators and preservers. In the virtual world folk art lives in the form of mini-videos, notes, gifs, posts, hash tags, life hacks, city legends, stories, jokes, catch phrases, songs, anecdotes, proverbs, aphorisms, jargon, etc., which have their own special social and information environment, mission and target audience. The criterion of success is simple: the number of views and "likes" and "reposts" in the social networks, i.e. interest of users. Virtual folklore, in comparison with the traditional one, acquires new forms that have not existed before, which are broadcast in a new digital format, while preserving all the same basic characteristics of the traditional folklore texts: oralism, overcoming writing, collectiveness of authorship, anonymity, variability. We consider the posts from the point of view of their goals and divide them into 4 main types: promoting the given idea, entertaining, information-educational and advertising. Though sometimes it mighrt be difficult to allocate clear boundaries between posts, but nevertheless in most cases it is possible to classify them according to the main goal of a post.

Keywords: Internetnetwork folkloreInstapostsEnglish-speaking discourseLinguosinergeticsInstagram


Due to the worldwide expansion of the modern technologies and the acceleration of information exchange the processes of globalization have become not only the economic, but also the linguaocultural ones. The sensitivity to the updated linguocultural code favours the fact that global culture is attached to neither a certain place, nor any limited historical period (Utkin, 2016). Values of global culture are broadcast by global communication systems everywhere and from nowhere.

Currently the world and its conceptualization are changing. Folklore culture drops out of a classical and traditional frameworks and transforms into virtual culture. Today network literature ("netliterature") and network art have become a reality. Being a way of interaction between the person and the world around folklore organically masters virtual space. Folklore and network texts, refrains, melodies and clips contain and broadcast different types of songs (popular, street, students’, tourists’, bardic and others), oral non- fictional narrations (urban legends, thin stories, jokes, anecdotes). The essential part of daily discourse elements also includes chunks of language, speech patterns, aphorisms, slang creativity, jargons and also gossips (Taran, 2010).

The main characteristics of network folklore texts have the same characteristics as the classical folklore texts (Golovanov & Golovanova, 2015; Plakhova, 2016). There are some of them: anonymity and collectivity of authorship, poly-variation, orthodoxy, ability to embody the most general ideas of reality in the art. It should be noted that in distinction from classical folklore, network folklore has also its own distinctive features such as multimedia, indirect communication, interactivity, hypertextuality, intertextuality and others.

Problem Statement

This study focuses on the folklore phenomena because of the special nature of network folklore. A pioneer in the field of scientific interpretation of network folklore in Russia was the State Republic center of the Russian folklore (URL: At the beginning of the 20th century studying the modern forms of traditional culture was of great interest for the linguists. A number of aspects of this subject drew attention of the folklore researchers. This issue was discussed at a number of conferences of the center "Folk-Art-Net: New horizons of creativity. From tradition to virtuality", "The Internet and folklore", "Folklore XXI centuries: Heroes of our time", "Folklore of small social groups: traditions and modernity ".

In 2007 the Internet project has been started by Netlore "The anthology of network folklore" (URL: which stores the Internet folklore. NetLore project tasks included searching, collecting, systematization, specification, storage and promoting of network memes, viruses, Internet folklore. However they did not set the task of scientific interpretation of the Internet folklore.

The international community of the linguists dealing with an issue of scientific research of Internet folklore and urban legends has the following web-sites: The Website for the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (URL:, The Folklore Society (URL:, International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (URL:

Consequently, there aren't so many researchers who systemically study the Internet folklore. The problem of folklore began to be considered even before the expansion of the Internet. It is an object of research of many foreign scientists: Bronner, Simon J., Wiebe K., Meder T., Krawczyk-Wasilewska V., Blank T.J., Preston, Cathy Lynn, Henken, Elissa R., Frank R., Donovan P., Burkhart D., Schmidt H., O’Reilly T., Sava E., Valovic T.S..

Network folklore provides huge amount of data to be investigated within the framework of the linguistic research, that’s why for the purposes of this study we decided to consider the Instaposts from the point of view of linguosinergetics.

Research Questions

The research questions for this study are the following ones: Is it possible to single out clear boundaries between the posts? If yes, then what criteria are to keep to? What are the key system-forming parameters of Instagram?

This study will give the classification of the posts depending on their goals. The understanding of modern net folklore will help the researchers of different directions to establish the reasons of various processes in language under the influence of social networks. The new way of communication socializing makes the language change and take the new forms of existence.

Purpose of the Study

This research aims to study the linguosynergetic features of the representation of network folklore on the material of the English and Russian network of Instagram. To achieve this, the posts of the Instagram users were investigated here.

Research Methods

Linguosynergetics represents a required synthesis of the natural and human scientific search and also a creative mathematical approach to the solution of modern problems of globalization. By means of linguosynergetics it is easy to describe the concept of an unstable nonequilibrium Internet discourse, a phenomenon of uncertainty and multialternativeness of its semantic development, the idea of emergence of an order from chaos. The object of this study – the Internet discourse (particularly network folklore in social networks), represents a striking example of nonlinearity and spontaneous chaotic nature (Mamonova & Ukhmina, 2017).

Certainly, the process of self-organization of the social networks is a priority subject for the research. Social networks provide rich material for the linguists. The language phenomena observed, as well as the frequency of these or those phenomena, the reasons and regularities of their emergence and a number of other questions have to be considered by the researcher of the chaotic network discourse.

Information network is a model that includes some set of the local concepts which are self-organized under the influence of a certain basic concept in the discourse structure. This fractal structure can become more involved and complicated through ratios of structures of the same level, and different ones. Each part can make semantic influence on the cognitive structures, and those in turn can change, being in dynamic semantic balance.

The social network users are often guided by the opinions and estimates of their network followers. There appears a dominating point of view on any question that is so-called collective unconscious. There are specified the moral points of reference and cultural features which are represented in a number of local concepts.

The theory of fractals is a methodological basis of this research. It is the concept and methodology of self-organization that can be used for the analysis of difficult nonlinear discourse systems (Arshinov & Budanov, 2017). The processes and the phenomena in the humanitarian sphere are considered as the complex self-organized systems which emergence and growth can be presented through cross-disciplinary communication, nonlinear modelling and the fractal analysis. The fractal is considered by scientists as the general scientific concept working in any field of any science and representing each phenomenon as a continuously changing system. The scientific researches of V.V. Tarasenko are connected with the integration of the term "fractal" into linguistic synergetic methodology (Tarasenko, 2009). That allows applying a fractal as a theoretical construct to the description of complex linguistic systems. In this regard, in our opinion, a concept is considered as a synergetic semantic formation in the discourse space, on the one hand, having a long history of the existence, and on the other hand, receiving a new birth in linguosynergetics at the joint of philosophy, cultural linguistics, synergetics, cognitive science and linguistics. The choice of this methodological approach is caused by the specific features of the research object which is considered as a fractal organized semantic formation.

In other words, the Internet expansion is a cultural accessory that reflects entirely those tendencies of the public consciousness which dominate during this period of time having their own specific features.


Let’s consider the content of the popular network Instagram. Any discourse is formed by the fractal principle of self-similarity, iteration and recurrence. The self-organizing system of discourse possesses some lingua synergetic characteristics such as nonlinearity, hierarchy, instability, emergence, symmetry/asymmetry, openness (Olizko, 2015).

Fractal discourse system self-organizes into dominant structures under the definite parameters. In Instagram discourse there are two main parameters that keep it under control. They are the constancy of Insta-content and its relevance for the target audience. Putting it another way, the existence of any discourse is defined by its specific goal.

The constant rivalry in Instagram discourse creates the dynamical non-equilibrium semantic system. So depending on their goals all posts can be divided into 4 types (or 4 dominant structures): promoting the given idea, entertaining, information-educational and advertising. A post is considered as a semantic component of the self-organizing system of the studied Insta discourse. These types are true for both English and Russian Instaposts.

Posting the 1st type of posts the user tries to make his idea look good, as if he sells it, attracting the readers. For example, “ A new queen is in town…hopefully this one has more patience than Mila and can actually finish making a bed . @allswellhome…a new matress brand giving women the highest honor!! They have named their King Mattress the Supreme Queen!” #ad #myallswell (Instagram).

The aim of the entertaining posts is to attract the followers, to increase the number of likes and comments. They can be jokes, anecdotes, memes, motivational or inspirational posts, interesting life facts, congratulations on holidays, hot news, contests, surveys, etc.: “Life lessons I learned years ago: The hardest thing in Life, is to decide which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn…”; To be vulnerable is to be beautiful. Heart opening #yogaeverydamnday; Happy Birthday Alyonchik!!! Wishing the most amazing day!! Thank you for your friendship and for some of the most precious memories. Love you lots ”; “Юхуу! Ставь жирный лайк, ведь тут собрано все самое важное, что необходимо знать перед началом моего фитнес марафона, который стартует уже завтра в 6 утра по Москве. Ты еще не участвуешь? Тогда читай правила #вотТУТ и добро пожаловать в команду! Марафон будет проходить 21 день – именно столько по статистике требуется человеку, чтобы выработать привычку” (Instagram). Interacting on posts is fun and easy. The followers discuss different topics; talk with the author of a post in the comments.

The information and educational posts give certain information to the followers. They also may arise trust, create an image of competence in the given area. For example, lifehacks, reviews, tips, training materials etc .: “Чтобы творить чудеса, не нужны ни волшебные палочки, ни самые современные компьютерные технологии – достаточно красоты движения, очарования музыки и силы воображения” (Детская Школа Балета); “Этот невероятный и живой, сказочный и реальный, глубокий, удивительный, пугающий и зовущий, завораживающий подводный мир. Когда забываешь, что дышать надо ртом…” (Banana Beach, Coral Island, Koh Hey, Phuket); «C ЛЮБОВЬЮ И РАДОСТЬЮ. Друзья, всем кто интересуется искусством, культурой и верит, что творчество не только меняет мир, но и помогает людям. Завтра в 16.00 ч. в Государственном музее искусств РК им. А. Кастеева состоится открытие персональной выставки известного деятеля искусств Казахстана - архитектора, дизайнера, художника Тимура Сулеймана»;“San Francisco has the ‘Painted Ladies’ but Sydney has the ‘Painted Workshops’! #sydney #sanfrancisco #paintedladies #paintedworkshops #sydneyharbor (Instagram).

The advertising posts aim at attracting the potential clients, embracing the largest possible target audience, building strong relationship with the clients. This is achieved by means of customer reviews, reposts, giveaways among the followers etc.: “To take this photo, I literally handed her the empty ketchup bottle. Running out of Heinz ketchup in this house is sort of running out of toilet paper…you don’t do it!!! Luckily @heinzketchup_us has a BOGO promo right now. Time to stock up! For details, visit #ad, #theresaminimilavideostories.

It is quite common for the companies to invent their own hash tags which are actually slogans of the brands in Instagram: #rakamakafit, #lilballerine, #ekittynio_stylist, #et_design, #anna_knyazeva_official, #fightfit_training (Instagram).

The most successful is the hidden advertising, which might be represented in the form of a post to share up with the friends. There are no excessive hints but there are given a lot of details: “Очень мне полюбились соленые вкусы *энерджисмарт», «Ребята приглашают всех желающих на бесплатный Новогодний он-лайн интерактив. Тебя ждут 8 сказочных дней. Подписывайся на блог и регистрируйся в шапке профиля. Получишь массу положительных эмоций”; “When Mila steals a bite of Emma’s @TysonBrand chicken sandwich. At least she didn’t get MY @Lipton iced tea #ad”, “Disneyland pictures galore up on the blog. Huge thanks to @getawaytoday for helping me plan an awesome trip for 18 family members “; “ Move over Mel Gibson, this remarkable man shares his perspective on women and it wouldn’t be @adam_spencer1 if it didn’t have a maths analogy. Beautiful Sunday read @georgiacassimatis #notbiased; Pretty much how anyone feels shopping at @ronrobinson78. It’s like the real Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory with clothes and everything else!” (Instagram).

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It is difficult to allocate clear boundaries between posts, but nevertheless in most cases it is possible to classify them according to the main goal of a post being a semantic component of the self-organizing system of the Instadiscourse. The key parameters of Instagram are constancy and relevance for the target audience. In this regard in a flow of information the ability of identification of the most important and essential issues is significant for the target audience at present. The specific goal defines the existence and fractal self-organization of any discourse.

Thus, the processes of self-organization of semantic structures, their mechanisms and regularities of dynamic growth in real time are very challenging. This is an extensive field for the fractal modeling of a network discourse for linguists and researchers.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Mamonova, N. V., & Yukhmina, E. A. (2018). Instagram Network Folklore In The Light Of The Linguosynergetics. In I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 146-150). Future Academy.