Can We Please Make Instagram Casual Again?

So, I feel like there’s been a lot of talk surrounding the idea of “making Instagram casual again.” I remember when the app first launched almost a decade ago and everyone was obsessed with posting pictures of their food, inspirational quotes and selfies, which we all know got annoying after a while, but to me it was almost endearing. Maybe it’s because I was a pre-teen and new little about the art of photography, but it seems like people were significantly less concerned with their physical appearances and achieving the perfect edit, lighting, filter, whatever. Nowadays there are a lot of unspoken rules. We fixate on maintaining a specific “aesthetic” or making our account appear cohesive and “vibey” (I’m honestly not even sure what that means), with the motivation being to project an image of sheer perfection and convey to our followers, “Look at how much fun I’m having! And notice how amazing I look! Not to mention I look this fabulous all the time!”

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but I’m sure we can all come to the conclusion that Instagram and other social media platforms portray nothing more than curated versions of ourselves and the people we know and interact with on a daily basis. The images we see as we mindlessly scroll through our feeds are simply not accurate representations of reality. Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense why we want to post our most attractive moments. Why would we want to share blurry photos or how horrendous our faces look in the morning? The issue is that even though we know in the back of our minds that it’s all fake, we soon begin to feel invalidated as we compare ourselves to our peers and become consumed by securing the most amount of likes possible. If we receive a low number of likes, we anxiously question why. It’s not healthy, and we all fall prey to this habit. Sometimes I glance through my old pictures and intensely analyze everything that looks “bad”: the graininess, my hair, the angle, and so on. Photo-editing apps have become widespread in order to manipulate our appearances and conceal any imperfections that we absolutely all have. The worst part is that although many of us partake in this practice, it’s important that we don’t edit our photos too much, because then people will notice that we care. And we’re supposed to give off the impression that we don’t care, that it was all effortless. What?

Since the beginning of fall semester, I gradually began transforming my Instagram into a more casual profile. The word casual is definitely subjective and can mean a number of things to different people, but I started focusing more on the captions to go along with my content. I shared a typical picture of me and my friends over the weekend, and looking over it more closely, I realized that I forgot to rub my dry shampoo in completely and there were white streaks in my hair. Unlike my normal critical self, I decided to own it: “Also I forgot to rub my dry shampoo in all the way so please don’t judge.” My friends detected the humor and mentioned that they could hear me saying those exact words. And so, the trend continued. Instead of Instagram being a chore, it became a fun little game for me to create a new caption every so often, each containing a self-deprecating opinion or a sardonic commentary on some trend -- for example, the saturation of “szn” as opposed to season. I even shared some of my saved snapchats, because the quality is actually decent! In all my posts, I became unapologetically honest and demonstrated what I truly felt about each situation, and it made me despise social media significantly less. So, whenever you decide what your next post is going to be, don’t try to impress people. Do it for yourself. Maybe we can never change the foundation or competitive atmosphere of social media (we can’t), but we can decide where we want to focus our attention and hone in on the aspects we enjoy, the ones that inspire us personally.