Article by Mia Galante
If you ask someone in Generation Z if they have an active Instagram account, more often than not the answer will be yes. From its launch in early 2012, Instagram has transformed drastically as a platform. What started out as an easy way to share photos with family and friends has evolved into a space that is dominated by celebrities, million dollar corporations and can be a primary source of income through influencer marketing. However, as Generation Z has started to become wary of influencer culture and the emphasis on an aesthetic, carefully curated Instagram feed, the platform has started to shift back to a casual nature. Instead of trying to plan the most high quality and aesthetically pleasing photos to post, celebrities, influencers and everyday people alike have opted for posting random pictures they enjoy regardless of photographic quality.
These collections of seemingly candid snapshots of a person’s everyday life that can include their favorite coffee shops, books, scenery, music, foods, etc, are often referred to as “photo dumps.” In my life, I have definitely tried to adopt the more “casual” instagram feed with photo dumps of random photos I enjoy, but I still find myself putting the same and even more amount of effort in my Instagram feed as before. While this new trend of “casual” feeds looks carefree and effortless on the surface, the reality is far from it.
As I’ve continued to try to adopt this “casual” aesthetic, I find that the lines between my real life and social media have started to blur. This performative casualty has started to make my life feel like it solely exists to be photographed. Adopting a “casual” Instagram feed gives people the feeling that they don’t care about social media or how others perceive them when in reality, the trend exists on the basis of curating a feed that gives off the false impression that there was no thought put behind it. Furthermore, the “casual” Instagram trend disguises itself as trying to dismantle unachievable beauty and lifestyle standards created through editing and photoshop, yet these “casual” Instagram feeds still continue to uphold them.
Celebrities and influencers who popularized this trend are attempting to show an inauthentic sense of reliability while living a wealthy, privileged, unattainable lifestyle. Additionally, people are now trying to garner the same enticing effect that these celebrities are able to achieve by making their social media presence more personal and stripped down. One of the main goals of these photo dumps is to have your followers think your life is interesting and present to them the idealized version of the person you wish you were. When I look at my own social media presence, I sometimes feel like I’m looking at two different people. The versions of ourselves we present on Instagram are well thought out and free of the awkwardness and uncertainties of everyday life. Through the “casual” Instagram trend, people are merely trying to imitate this romanticized version of what their lives should look like and convince others that they truly don’t care about how they are perceived, when that’s really all it’s about.