Don’t you think the chaos would be amazing ?!!
( @mileycyrus / Instagram )
Here’s the thing: the Internet is a malleable entity. It is not one thing that remains true to what it was at its inception. If it were, we’d all still be awaiting our TBH’s and making sure each post had a white border. It has always been changing to fit the demands of the masses and the good news is: you and I are its agents of control. There is no reason as to why we have to accept it to be the way it is now.
As of 2019, Instagram has been initiating a beta-testing phase where they hide the likes of some users. This initiative was proposed by Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, and he believed that by hiding likes, the pressure that came with posting, social comparisons, and people’s self-image would be reduced
Our brains are wired in a manner where positive reinforcements are oftentimes the greatest and only motivator for a lot of the things we do. So when you post that selfie and it starts raking in likes, your brain releases dopamine which in turn rewards you with some good feelings. But when your post “flops”, you retreat into your little insecurity cocoon and remain there until by some miracle of nature you emerge and, lo and behold, you’re slightly more insecure about yourself than you were pre-post. You already know the drill.
Now, I’m not here to talk about how social media affects mental health negatively or how I hate it altogether. I’m here to offer a different perspective. Remember how I mentioned earlier that the Internet isn’t a rigid thing, but rather something that can be shaped into what we want it to be? This is just that. Instagram took the initiative to hide our likes, but we need to take the initiative to disregard them altogether.
At its infancy, before monetization and standards, Instagram was merely a place where people pushed out content they thought was good, even if it doesn’t meet the bar of our expectations today. When you scroll down someone’s page, you begin to notice a lot of pictures with silly poses, food, memes, and random documentations of their day. The duck faced, OG meme, filterless era is endearing now and a lot of us will understandably feel a pang of nostalgia and yearning to go back to the “simpler times.” And we can.
The beauty of culture is that it shifts when just a few people decide to introduce a new norm. Look at music. I’m a music nerd so bear with me, but this is an example a lot of us can appreciate. Ikutaro Kakehashi, a Japanese engineer, pioneered the Roland TR-808, better known as the 808 now. Kanye West wreaked some havoc and made influential waves in the music industry after taking advantage of this drum machine. It started with 808s and Heartbreak and now, thousands of artists have utilized this tool to further their own careers and give us some of our favorite records. Can we include a specific ‘casual’ social media trend that is making a comeback similar to the 808?
Or take a look at mullets. There was a period of time in America where if someone had a mullet, we assumed they supported the Confederacy and chewed tobacco in their free time. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but look at us now. A bunch of brave people decided to rock a mullet and now we have Miley Cyrus serving us looks daily.
Here’s the thing: you and I can commence our liberation from the shackles of standards and social comparisons right now if we wanted. We can turn our Instagram pages into a portfolio of car selfies, terribly cropped memes, and god-awful covers with guitars we only know three chords on. You can be anything you want. You might not rake in the number of likes you thought you would but who the hell cares except for you? Everyone’s already busy worrying about their own image.
It’s a good thing that Instagram is attempting to achieve, but at the end of the day, it comes down to us. We cannot rely on the initiatives of others to make ourselves feel better. You’re only here for a short time. There are probably thousands, if not millions, of accounts out there who have been “shitposting” their way through life because what is your Instagram if not a portfolio of who you are? Throw in a messy selfie here and there. Maybe a picture or two of the two squirrels you saw humping during your walk and that you thought was the funniest thing in the world. I’m sure your timeline would also appreciate the occasional picture of your overly decorated coffee.
So post that filler sunset picture you thought would only get about forty likes. Post that picture of the ugly cat you saved from Google images. If you’re feeling a little edgy, maybe use a big font to add some stupid meme caption onto it. Nothing matters. Positive nihilism will save us all.
And to be honest, I’m really just saying this because I’m tired of perfectly aligned feeds and aesthetically pleasing pictures. What I really want is to see a bunch of young adults posting like reckless boomers on their Facebook timelines.
Jazz Abraham is an Online Writer for Rowdy Magazine. She spends her days annoying her mother, crying over baby orangutans, obsessing over Brad Pitt, listening to obscure 60s rock, reading, and writing songs about things she’s never experienced. Her passions lie in film, music, the planet, and the amplification of silenced voices. You can reach out to her at @jazzabbraham on Instagram.