This article is dedicated to Madeline Haller, who took the time out of her day to message me that I should write an article about my Instagram and the way that I like to use it.
My take on Instagram is that it’s my digital scrapbook: a collection of all the memories, big and small, that I want to take note of and remember for myself. Sure, it’s still a highlight reel like any other Instagram, but then again most people aren’t putting pictures of themselves crying over an upcoming final in a scrapbook, either. And of course, like a scrapbook, I try to lay out the pictures in an aesthetically pleasing way (just because it’s fun).
I’m a very visual person, and I’ve noticed that if I don’t take pictures of little things to look back on, I struggle to picture that moment. Somehow, an image of something as small as a meal or a sunset unlocks memories from a whole day with just a glance.
I’m also a very organized person, and what I love about Instagram is that it both allows me to share some of my favorite moments with loved ones and allows me to catalog them in a nice, easy-to-navigate way that gives me the opportunity to look back through those memories whenever I’d like to.
Recently, Instagram updated to include a “hide like count” option on posts, which I personally love. I now turn off the like count on all of my posts. Instead of worrying about how many people are going to see my picture/video or whether it’s a bad time to post, I get to just post pictures that I want to and only see what my friends have to say about them in the comments.
This way of using Instagram has been so much healthier for me than a few years ago, when I (like a lot of other high school girls) was using the app for validation from my peers. If a post didn’t get over 150 likes in the first hour, I’d assume that people were annoyed by me and archive it, even if it was just a picture of me and my pet that made me happy.
I love that in 2022, we are finally moving away from the concept of “perfectionism” that was so prevalent on social media when I was growing up. Rather than saturating people’s feeds with overly-filtered pictures of perfectly posed girls in bikinis and full faces of makeup, we are finally lowering the standards for what is “appropriate” for someone’s main Instagram.
There’s nothing wrong with cute bikini pictures or full faces of makeup, but it’s also okay to post a picture of yourself in a sweatshirt with a coffee and nothing else really going on. You don’t need a dreamy sunset or perfectly clear, dewey skin to share what makes you happy with others.
I really love a good photo dump. I love randomly deciding one day to look through my camera roll, picking ten pictures of things that made me smile in the last few weeks, then throwing them together and clicking “post”. Of course, I still throw the (free) M5 filter on VSCO on them first and add a little bit of grain because I like to make things pretty, but it takes away all the pressure that used to come with posting on Instagram.
In high school, I know that many of us would feel the need to post at the right “timing” after big events like homecoming, prom, musicals, or even certain outings with friends. We worried that if you waited too long, it would “seem weird” to other people (although other people probably wouldn’t notice or care that you posted your prom pictures two weeks after prom). High school is already a breeding ground for insecurity, and an unhealthy relationship with social media absolutely serves to exacerbate that.
Thinking of Instagram like a digital diary or a scrapbook takes away the need to please others. Your page is yours and should be filled with things that you want there, no matter how small those things are. And, if you stumble across some cute pictures that you’d like to share with others that were from an event a few weeks ago, post them, because there’s no time limit on a scrapbook.
I feel like my Instagram encapsulates some of my favorite things that make me who I am. Lots of my photo dumps include pictures with friends and family, sunsets, flowers, and (most of all) nerdy, organized desk setups for studying. Taking pictures and videos of little, everyday moments that made me happy and sharing them with others is fun for me.
When Madeline reached out to me about writing this article, she said that I should write about the Instagram as a scrapbook trend, why I started it, and if I’ll do it forever. To be honest, the reason I started it was probably just because I’ve loved Pinterest for as long as I can remember and I have more fun taking Pinterest-style pictures of little things that I thought were aesthetically pleasing than trying to do photoshoots of myself. Also, I used to keep photo albums but it’s a pain trying to print pictures every few months to put in an album and gets pricey after a while.
As for whether I’ll do it forever, I’m not completely sure what my social media will look like in ten years, but I definitely think that this trend is here to stay with me for the time being. The content of the photo dumps will probably morph from studying and hanging out with friends to apartment/home decorations, meals I cooked, my future dog, and one day cute pictures of my kids, but I think I will alway enjoy sharing little moments throughout the week that made me happy.
Hopefully in the next few years, my Instagram will slowly be filled with pictures of different cities around the world as I start to travel more, study sessions in the law school library, nights out with the girls, and maybe even wedding photos. No matter what, I can guarantee that my page will continue to be filled with memories that make me smile when I look back on them.
I’m not sure if anybody else does this, but when I’m having a stressful day I often click on my own Instagram profile and scroll back through pictures of some of my happiest moments to remind myself why I’m working so hard and what I’m aiming for. Of course, I could use my camera roll for the same purpose, but my camera roll is usually filled with screenshots of important emails and Quizlets, sheet music, or about a dozen duplicates of the exact same picture that I should have deleted but never took the time to.
Instagram is a great platform to organize and catalog your favorite pictures in chronological order and make them incredibly easy to look through. In seconds, I can scroll through pictures of my boyfriend and I’s smiling faces when I’m missing him, group pictures with friends, goofy photos of my cat back home, or pictures from summer and fall when the weather was warmer and I got to spend more time outside.
At the end of the day, your social media is yours to use as you wish, but I do think it’s a lot more fun posting little things throughout the month that made you happy as opposed to posting twice a year when you go to the beach and a formal. No matter how you choose to use social media, lower the pressure that you put on yourself to seem perfect.
If you have a picture that you love except for that one part of your arm that you’re insecure about or a tummy roll, post it anyway. Everyone else has those insecurities too, and I promise you look beautiful. If you have a picture that you took one day of your morning smoothie that you just love, throw it in a photo dump with a collection of other weekly moments. That way, when you’re having a rough day, you can look back on your profile and see all the little things that made you smile recently and remember all the small, beautiful things about this life we get to live.