Instagram stories - a catharsis for real life struggles


* This isn't actually a photo of me posting an Instagram Story, but it's one of me pretending to use my phone, which I guess is the closest I'll get to having a relevant image for this blog post.
Funless fact! For the last couple of weeks I've been meal prepping like a champ, spending significant time every Sunday night ladling small batch artisanal homemade vegan--sometimes even organic, depending on how precocious I feel--food into mason jars to be hauled to the office for lunch in the coming days. I regard my lunch jars with pride, partly because they’re a microcosm reflecting who I am as a person. If they could speak, they’d say things like, ‘this is Rachel, who cares about what she permits into her alimentary canal and takes time to make sure it is salubrious and top notch in quality but still on trend. Sometimes she tries her best to be wholesome too.’

If you’re a sound twenty something then the natural thing to do in a situation like this would be to Instagram it. In the true manner of a basic bitch, I’ve been dying to Instagram my jars of vegan food for a long time now. But I haven’t because this is a laborious process that involves arranging things neatly into place, decorating the frame with gratuitous props and two dozen trial and error shots. All in all the barrier to entry is as high as high gets. A shoddy shot really isn’t worthy of this hallowed social network, so striking balance on requisite effort vs justification by output is crucial. 

So the conflict ensues on whether it is better to post a badly framed, poorly lit photo and live with an indelible mark of imperfection on your Instagram profile, or to simply not post it at all. Not that this decision is necessary any longer thanks to the launch of Instagram Stories. Now it’s not as if Instagram staged a novel revolution in the social media space with the launch of Stories, as one might have gathered from the response that ensued when the stories feature was revealed: 

It’s almost as if a certain someone never quite got over the three billion dollar slow fade that Evan Spiegel pulled on them and hence decided to retaliate by way of ripping off the coolest function that was—up till this point--proprietary to Snapchat.

But I digress. If Instagram stories were real life, consequence would be a myth! You could eat the extra cupcake without disrupting your pre-summer silhouette downsize. Or half-ass your way through a presentation deck while waiting out the rest of the work day so that your to do list can automatically refresh itself. Except you can’t because there are no do-over’s IRL. So more often than not you have to do something well, or not at all.

Which is why the concept of Stories, be they Snapchat or Instagram, are so appealing. Every moment in the day is a diamond in the rough, and the ones that you choose to share need to be polished before they shine enough to be archived forever on social media. That takes time and effort that may simply be too much to ask if you have a day job to go to and a desire to avoid anything too mentally strenuous once you leave the office. Stories are about instantaneous sharing, with no editing or filtering required, and without the whole juggernaut ending up a blemish on a digital existence you’d rather keep pristine. So the parts of you that are too unkempt to exist in permanence, the parts of you that you want to publicise without having to worry too much about framing and styling, automatically vanish at the start of each new day. Besides, it’s a no judgement zone. The absence of the like or comment feature means you don’t create content to bag social validation - you do it as an elemental, organic portrayal of you as a person. Is it an authentic one? Arguably the snippets you see on social media can’t accurately reflect anything because they’re all but ripe moments cherry picked from one’s life, but the authenticity factor seems to be more significant when it comes to the celebs and influencers you follow. 
For everyone else, sharing a story is a no-strings-attached way to showcase what you ate (#foodporn), the ground your feet stood on (#fromwhereistand) or maybe even what you’re wearing (#wiwt, #ootd etc) with none of the usual stylistic requirements that Instagramming entails. You get the gratification of sharing details of your life that are aligned with who you want people to think you are, without the pressure to make it aesthetically flawless. I can definitely see myself *maybe* unveiling my mason jar lunches on Instagram Stories in the near future because it will literally take zero effort and not show up on my profile if badly done.

So if real life seems to require you to be more of an adult than you really are, then Instagram Stories will provide some respite from responsibility. It’ll all disappear in 24 hours anyway. 

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