Instagram is an endless library of great lives. And then the epidemic hit and the truth started to fizzle out.
I am an early adopter of Instagram. More than ten years ago, I downloaded the then-new app on my iPod Touch and started randomly recording the moments of my youth: my colorful socks, the movie playing on my box mirror, a duck eye mirror selfie. My clumsy collection of random, often blurry photos with no purpose other than a photo diary to share with friends. In 2022, the thought of running a social media account is ridiculous.
Over the past ten years, what started as an online album has quickly crystallized into a highly organized visual identity. As Instagram grew, so did the trend of authenticity, and soon, fans and celebrities (thank you, Kardashians) were running the app. The photos were planned, posted, and edited to be free of defects and become the standard of the post, and the supporting content is added to this masterpiece.
But the features of “Instagram work” set unrealistic standards and, frankly, it’s annoying – especially since COVID-19 has made the lockdown less than beautiful. Mariah Barents, an influencer who follows social media trends, says that because the world has become so confined to the home, users are tired of sharing the best content. “In the past, fans showed these ideal lives and seemed impossible,” he said. “We’re just tired of wanting to be perfect.” As a result, the 2020s welcomed a new era – one that threw away the proverbial book of filters, travel photos and color-coordinated outfits and ushered in a new wave of “Instagram free.”
“Instagram is a free form of advertising where you are trying to show your audience that you don’t care how they view you,” said Akili Moree, a content producer who has criticized many TikToks. it looks like. Made famous by Matilda Djerf, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain and singer Dua Lipa, the unexpected, unexpectedly beautiful Instagram projects are not made by Instagram. Beautiful photography work has been sold for snapshots of the world that capture everyday life – a job, a silly look, an empty living room – and posted in a group of pictures called “photographs .” However, these displays are deceptive.
“When we read, we mean, ‘use'” says psychologist Joti Samra. “We’re pressing the ‘up’ button and looking at the camera. There is still some work in progress on that. It’s a mistake: If we think it’s natural, it’s not.”
Barents agrees, explaining, “I think there’s still an unfair part of the influence because the content has to look good.” For example: Before he touches his camera, Barents needs to find a suitable background with natural light, prepare his equipment and, of course, put together the right clothes. Then comes the most simple form, to produce the sense of surprise that has come to be associated with the state of neutrality. The whole process, including selecting and editing an image, takes more than an hour, sometimes repeating with several views in one day for a batch of content.
While the Instagram surprise, in theory, is meant to get away from the lie, Samra says it could be much worse. “It’s getting harder to do,” he said. “To look spontaneous and unplanned requires planning, so the irony is no different from any other form of advertising.” Now, instead of wanting to book an autumn trip, the app can also lead users to think that their daily lives are not the same as other people’s experiences.
Hence the rise of TikTok, a phenomenon that influenced the new age of advertising. The video-sharing platform is what Instagram is accused of: It’s always ahead of the curve with its features — like drama and dance — and thanks creators for delivering mobile-first content. After the slow growth of normal content on TikTok in 2020, the trend is down to Instagram, thanks to users like Barents who are encouraging others to stop focusing on how their feeds look. But “available” means different things on different platforms. Although creating a TikTok video is simply opening the app and pressing “record,” there is still an option to share the picture directly on Instagram.
@cozyakili #instagram #emmachamberlain #casualinstagram ♬ original sound – akili
Moree gets this, so she chooses to lean into the father’s fantasy projects. “Instagram tells the story of our lives and allows us to believe that we are more important than we are,” he said. “I just think it’s a game.” When we choose to view Instagram as a form of art, we can use it to promote creativity. The issues arise when we tell ourselves that the actions on an app rooted in curation can be canceled.
So, the secret to navigating free Instagram (and all social media) is to easily see it for what it really is: is it a glorious Michelangelo-esque mosaic for us? Maybe, although that’s always easier said than done. But sometimes I want to go through all the teenage Instagram photos again, eventually replaced by better food. There is an innocence behind the silly and out-of-focus photos that I sometimes wish I could come back to. After all, what could be more common than reality?
This article originally appeared in ALL’S May issue. Find out more here.