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  • Rachel Simpson

Make Instagram Casual Again

As time goes on and norms and conventions are set for things as simple as posting a picture on a social media site, the younger generations yearn for a time when social media was less curated.

Naturally, a platform that involves posting photographs obviously takes on a creative life. To a certain extent, it can even be considered artistic expression; aesthetics allow us to express ourselves and put a feeling to who we are as a person. Yet on the flip side, it gets tiresome. How much effort and time goes into flawlessly filtering photographs and even using apps that allow users to preview what their feed would look like with the next photo they post lost its novelty. At first it was fun, but then it got old and even harmful to some - over 15% of Instagram users said social media negatively affected their mental health by promoting unrealistic standards.

Admittedly, I’ve fantasized about a time when pictures were just pictures. There were no worries about whether or not it was even a great picture, because chances were, only your close friends would see it (and not on the “close friends” feature on Instagram). Yet as such a notion is so far out of reach, we can only imagine a time when the platform was casual.

“Make Instagram Casual Again” strives to recreate a time we miss. Or, more accurately for Gen Z, a time we never even fully got to experience as a teen or young adult. My older sister’s Instagram feed from 2012 reflects a sort of effortless, excitable time period. Instagram was new, and it was genuinely fun for many to unapologetically use hashtags, filter the living daylights out of their photos, and simply not think twice.

Beyond Instagram, there seems to be a foreign nostalgia for a time when social media wasn’t yet crystallized into our social spectrum. Content on Tik Tok, a platform primarily used by Gen Zs, already romanticizes the early 2010s - again, a period when social media didn’t carry the same weight it does now. 70 percent of teenagers check social media several times a day, up from 34 percent in 2012.

Yet, an unintended consequence of the “Make Instagram Casual Again” aesthetic might just be that it’s become a way to paint ourselves as effortless, nonchalant, unconcerned. It may be quite impossible not to use Instagram for portraying ourselves in a certain light.

When we post things, is it ever truly only for ourselves?

Still, the anti-aesthetic is the aesthetic that allows us to express our discontent at where we’ve found ourselves. It’s a revolt against the norms we accidentally locked ourselves into. It wasn’t the intention to create unrealistic standards. When Instagram wasn’t working on October 4th, some expressed a feeling of relief at the thought of social media disappearing. Is it because everyone feels stuck? Trapped into keeping up with a cyber world that still affects our material world, down to the way we’re perceived?

On Instagram, we choose how we want to portray ourselves - what we want people to see and when we want them to see it. The function of Instagram inherently simplifies our lives by making our experiences and memories into a curated grid. Essentially, there is no uninhibited Instagram.

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