Make Instagram Casual Again
by Kristy Cartmell, Designer/Social Media Specialist
This is a phrase I keep seeing pop up on my Instagram feed, especially amongst influencers’ captions and their recent posts so I wanted to investigate. For so long, we’ve known Instagram to be a well-polished, curated portfolio of our lives. We always want to put our best foot forward, and show our best angles in the best light. However, it wasn’t always like that. At one time, Instagram was just low-quality photos with cringe-worthy filters, capturing random snippets of everyday life. There was no incentive other than sharing those moments with those closest to us. We weren’t trying to impress anyone.
These days, the same thing cannot be said. In an article written by Renee Wang for The California Aggie, she says, “The politics of Instagram have affected the way we derive enjoyment. Memories are created solely for an Instagram shot, or memories are whittled down into a pretty shot “good enough for the feed.” These come with the anxiety that if we don’t post, the memory of a good night vanishes as a private memory instead of public evidence of a fun time.” When I read this, it made me think of the places I’ve wanted to visit or have been to just for the sake of a good Instagram post. A trendy, aesthetic restaurant or store comes to mind, as well as “Instagram murals” (a quick Google search and you’ll see what I mean). Anyone that regularly uses Instagram has fallen victim to these tropes at one point or another.
But what’s changed? Why a sudden shift? While I personally think there are a lot of nuances that contribute to the recent shift in mindset, Alice Crossley had this to say for Dazed, “In a year of protests and a pandemic, unboxing videos and travel vlogs seemed trivial and exceedingly out of touch (remember Kim Kardashian’s 40th birthday private Island tweet?). “Who wants to keep seeing mirror selfies of abs and luxury shopping trips when people are losing jobs, suffering financially, and mourning the death of their loved ones?” asks Unsah. This is something Lewys reiterates, “With everything that is going on right now, people can’t be bothered to look their best or dress up just for a picture,” he says, “I think that is why I started posting more random pictures.”
While I doubt we will ever rid ourselves of a desire for perfection, and I know influencers aren’t going anywhere, I think we are starting to move towards a place where we can create our own narrative. Lucy Banfield, a 19-year-old from London started casual posting after realizing she was spending hours taking and editing photos for Instagram. Casual posting means “you post what feels right for you, what you think represents yourself in the most genuine way,” she says, “I guess you could say my account is documentary in a way, as I almost upload on the go with no pre-planning or editing, it’s just all-natural.” (Dazed)
I personally have been on board with this trend as a Gen Zer myself. I’ve been able to make Instagram fun again and make it something just for myself, not worrying about the approval of others. It’s a relief to see people being their more authentic selves, down-to-earth, and genuinely comfortable in who they are and who they’re with.