On Instagram, life appears perfect. You see pictures of always smiling babies, your friends laughing out loud, and that “candid” so perfectly posed it actually appears candid.
We all have a brand, favorite paid-for VSCO filter, or color theme. We have apps that layout our photos before we post them to make sure the flow still works and the new post doesn’t interrupt our vibe. I am guilty, my friends are guilty, my teenage sister is guilty, and even meme accounts are guilty.
But is this changing? And should we want it to?
From the perspective of an aspiring digital communications professional this is terrifying. I spent the summer working at a digital agency, planning posts for companies weeks in advance. If Instagram goes casual, will our best practices research and detailed content calendars be for absolutely nothing? Or will we start stockpiling photos of clouds because that can appear to be an unplanned post? Will we give clients who know absolutely nothing about social media full reign of their perfectly curated Instagram? There are so many content what ifs.
More interesting is the fact that it looks like even Instagram wants to be casual again. Over the summer, Instagram began removing the like feature in certain countries. This test was done in hopes of encouraging users to post content that they wanted to post, and not what they thought their followers wanted them to post.
As an intern who calculated engagement rates for major brands this summer, I HATE this feature. I loved social media analytics and finding the common themes of successful content. It was like a puzzle. However, without likes, how am I supposed to know which posts and messages connected with followers? This change could be a major step back in time for how influencers and companies plan and execute their accounts.
But for my personal account, I pray the new Instagram trend is having no trend at all.
I would love to go back to the days where we all posted over filtered selfies with our dogs and didn’t care if one strand of hair was flying away. I dream of a world where I can post a picture of my favorite bagel (right after a perfectly posed beach picture) to my primary Instagram account instead of my brunch-specific account.
And honestly, I hope likes go away too. Wouldn’t our mental health be better if we weren’t checking to see if our freshman-year, class crush still liked our perfect photos?
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t care if it was cool to be casual, but we are still seeing the perfectly curated accounts of bloggers and using that as the standard. We imitate the accounts we admire. For now, I will keep posting my bagels to my brunch account for fear people will realize I’m not cool and continue watching how Instagram and its users go casual (or not).