Newsflash: Casual Instagram is a scam, not actually casual at all


Abby Klubeck, Staff Writer

Recently, the way that people post on Instagram has changed. Before, we used to make our Instagram feeds a highlight reel of our lives, using apps like VSCO to add subtle filters to already perfectly posed photos. 

Memories were created solely for a good picture you could post as evidence of a fun night. Fun experiences were reduced into pretty pictures that were good enough to make it into your feed. Nobody posted anything solely for their own enjoyment, but for the approval of their peers.  Instagram was an outlet to prove yourself by impressing others. 

The type of pictures that teens post on Instagram, however, has shifted away from those perfect photos to candid, carefree posts, or “casual posts.” Casual posts could vary from blurry photos that give off a spontaneous impression that the photo was not retaken multiple times to get right, or candid pictures of people doing day-to-day things like reading or shopping for clothes, and “not knowing” they were being photographed. But the thing is, the overall purpose of casual posts is still to impress others, just without making it seem like that’s your goal.

With the trend of posting casually, there is a new sense of pressure to seem effortlessly put together. Instead of just posing for a photo, which was hard enough to begin with, you now needed to make it look like you didn’t know it was being taken in the first place. In an attempt to look carefree, casual posts require a lot of effort to look right. You can’t seem like you’re trying too hard—you need to look authentic while still subtly showing off.

Like everything else on social media, casual Instagram is a performance, no different from how it was before, if not worse. Although the content itself may seem different, it all follows the unspoken rule that we only post when we’re trying to prove something. Before, it was evident that someone was trying to be portrayed as aesthetic or on-trend. Now, people are trying to seem picture-perfect without trying, even though  in reality they are trying very hard. Everything about casual Instagram is the antithesis of casual.

The problem with the concept of casual Instagram is that it leads to the increased buy-in of the myth of effortlessness. It convinces you that even when doing the simplest tasks, you need to look good and be photographable, which is extremely unrealistic. This then feeds into the many insecurities caused by social media. While using social media, we subconsciously compare ourselves to the numbers of posts we come across daily. If we’re surrounded by unrealistic content, we’re going to set unrealistic standards for ourselves, which we aren’t able to reach. This leads to insecurities over traits that are not reachable to begin with, which is something that many people don’t realize. Instead of then turning away from the toxicity of social media, we get more drawn to it, admiring the picture-perfect people that we wish we could be.  

We can’t undo the toxic aspects of social media by pretending they don’t exist. Acting like you don’t try further increases the effort put in to impress others, because the reality is that we all care about how others view us, no matter the lengths we go to deny it. Instead of inventing new ways to follow the underlying rules of Instagram, stopping trying to present ourselves a certain way just to please others better solves the issue.