Written by Lindsay Wong
Instagram as a social media platform plays many roles in our lives, but these days it seems to add more pressure to fit a certain aesthetic or have a visually pleasing feed. Instagram used to just be a fun platform to share pictures and interact with friends, before all the fancy and interactive functions like polls, story highlights and shop come along. Now, it has become a useful business tool for companies and organizations, as well as a platform for users to project a curated image of themselves.
When Instagram first launched around 10 years ago, it was what we would now call a casual social media platform. People used the platform to share photos of food, selfies, and inspirational quotes. Even though it may have gotten annoying after a while, it was almost endearing. At that time, people put more thought into the content they were posting and less about what filters or effects they had to slap onto their posts. Nowadays, people use the VSCO app to make sure each photo they post has a certain filter so their feed is pleasing once someone else scrolls through. Although some accounts do want to have an aesthetically pleasing feed, like creators or photographers, other users tend to sacrifice posting photos that they actually want to post in order to make sure their feed is still visually pleasing.
Users are so fixated on maintaining a specific aesthetic that the content they are posting seems “fake” in a way. They are motivated to project an image of perfection that shows they are having fun, have active social lives and are adhering to societal pressure. Likes and comments give us validation, especially in front of hundreds of other users, leading us to post the most attractive photos we have of ourselves. Users who post about content they actually want to, like memes or photos of celebrities they like, are secretly judged and made fun of. This clearly demonstrates how Instagram is no longer casual.
As such, the ‘Make Instagram Casual Again’ movement was pioneered to make Instagram less “perfect” and allow users to be less critical about what they were posting. Instead of focusing on posting the perfect picture (or series of pictures) to fit your Instagram feed, along with the right amount of hashtags and an “appropriate” caption, the movement encourages users to own up to their perceived “imperfections” in their photos. For example, pointing out your unkempt hair or striking the wrong pose. On stories, feel free to post goofy polls and typical photos whenever you feel like it. The pressure to upkeep an Instagram feed that adheres to societal expectation goes away once Instagram becomes a more casual social media platform. Instagram becomes a lot more fun once we care less about filters and interactions.
Instagram has lost much of its realness that it once had and for this reason, it’s time to make Instagram casual again. Post whatever you want – it doesn’t matter what others may think about the content you post. Posting honest content in social media is freeing in a way. Don’t try to impress your friends and followers; just post for yourself. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t get a lot of likes on your posts. As long as you like what you post, social media becomes less stressful and Instagram can once again be casual, just like it was almost a decade ago.