Cultivating Social Media: A List of Honest Instagram Captions

We all remember in 2015 when Instagrammer Essena O'Neill broke the truth to the internet: that most of her photos were staged or paid for by companies. 

"I was lost, with serious problems so beautifully hidden ... If anything my social media addiction, perfectionist personality and low self esteem made my career," she said. "Over-sexualisation, perfect food photos, perfect travel vlogs – it is textbook how I got famous. Sex sells, people listen to pretty blondes, I just happened to talk about veganism a trending thing on YouTube."

Being an influencer is obviously tough work, but what about the rest of us? One of the things that stuck out to me during the 2016 Her Conference was the declaration by social media experts saying, "Instagram is the new resumé." I never realized how true that was until it was spoken aloud.

Anything anyone wants to know about me can be found on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. But how much of it is real? 

Honestly? Not a lot. What I cultivate online are snippets of my life, but only the most exciting parts. With every post,  I'm trying to convey something to an audience. I'm trying to prove to people I knew ten years ago that I'm not weird anymore, that I'm living a great life. I'm traveling, I'm becoming wordly, I'm having the best time ever. What's really happening? I'm binge-watching Sailor Moon and eating Lays on a Friday night after six people have declined to hang out with me.

So here's my honesty, HC. Here are my posts with my real intentions behind them.


What this caption should have said: "I'm out on a Thursday night and I want you all to know. I'm not like the regular college kids, I'm a COOL college kid. I'm at John Brown's Underground. There are leather armchairs here. Look at that classy ass lamp. I just paid $12 for a cocktail. But I'm COOL."

What this caption should have said: "I took approximately 4,732 photos while I was in London for a week but I'm social media conscious so I didn't overload you with it then. Now I have all these photos I didn't share. I like this one. It looks artsy. It tells you I was in London. I'm wordly, like me please."

What this caption should have said: "Look at me making fun of myself. My last post wasn't aesthetic but this one is hahahaha. It's a funny tongue-in-cheek from a bar. You probably assume I'm going inside, but the truth is that I was walking past it and thought it was funny. I didn't have drinks. I went home and took a bath instead."


What this caption should have said: "I was sexually assaulted this week and am not okay. This song is really good and I love that there are people in the world who are in love. I'm not one of them, but I wish I could be. Also, I want my favorite local band to see this and validate me."

What this caption should have said: "This bathroom had some heavy 90's aesthetic vibes and it's too pretty to not take a photo and share. It looks like I'm a good photographer, but I took like 10 photos and this was the best one."

What this caption should have said: "I'm on my way to Vegas. Planes are cool and I want you to know I'm going somewhere that isn't Kansas in the middle of January. Actually, I'm on my way to see Britney Spears which is a lifelong dream of mine. But I don't want to gloat. Instead, I'll take this pastel pink pic and caption it vaguely." 

What this caption should have said: "I'm wearing really cute shoes. Also, I'm perpetually single and I own a cat. This hat validates me and makes it look edgy. I like to look edgy. Look how edgy I am, I'm so sharp and edgy."

What this caption should have said: "I'm the kind of girl who likes to read in the middle of the day and cuddle up with her cat. I'm wearing glasses and having a cozy day in. Also, I'm reading a really popular YA book and am on trend. Look at the pun I made, I'm so funny."

What this caption should have said: "I watched a Sophia Coppola film last night. It's really niche, idk if you'd like it. Actually, I didn't even like it. I was on Tumblr throughout the whole thing because I couldn't pay attention, but the cinematography was really beautiful. Anyway, i'm in in on this exclusive club that just absolutely adores 2006 Kirsten Dunst."

What this caption should have said: "These glasses are so extra and ridiculous, I could never actually buy them. They look kind of good on my face, though. I could get away with it if I were Kendall Jenner, but I'm not. People would make fun of me. But I still like them, so I'll take a pic and make fun of myself."

What this caption should have said: "Tequila makes me sick. Looking at this gives me a migrane. This is a gifr for someone else, but I bought it for the sole reason that it's name brand and also The Rolling Stones are cool. I like them. I know like, four of their songs, but they're good songs, right? And I have their albums but I haven't gotten around to listen to them because I'd rather jam to 2003 Hilary Duff. But still, I'd dish out so much money to see them. And Mick Jagger is legendary. The Rolling Stones are legendary."