The Instagram aesthetic is not dead
Apparently the ‘’instagram aesthetic’ is dead, according to an April 23, 2019 article in The Atlantic. What they are referring to are “images of bright walls, artfully arranged lattes and avocado toast, and Millennial-pink everything, all with that carefully staged, color-corrected, glossy-looking aesthetic”. If that is the strict criteria, they may be right. But in generalising for a cool headline, they have illustrated exactly why there is a move away from this specific kind of feed, and also why they are wrong about curated feeds being ‘dead’.
Quoting instagram ‘influencer management companies’, PR agencies, and advertising agency execs (none of whom have a vested interest of course :P ) - they proclaim that this is all because influencers are trying to be more authentic; that creating the perfect shot was becoming too exhausting and, to sum it up, all the instagrammable spots were already instagrammed too much, so were no longer cool. Oh and apparently “Instagram museums” are not in vogue anymore. (Look that one up…it’s fascinating.)
The thing is, this is all positioned as some kind of huge shock - and of course ‘millennials’ are all to blame. But the truth is that this is perfectly normal, and totally to be expected. And definitely needed!
Instagram is evolving. All social media is evolving. And the way we use it is evolving. Quite rightly too.
When instagram was new, and people started highly curating and styling their feeds, it reached a point where it created a false belief that they all had perfect lives. And let’s be honest, we initially LOVED the beautiful fantasy, but it meant we slowly started to question why we didn’t have such beautiful, #blessed lives. We know this, it’s been talked about a LOT recently.
The thing is, that is what marketing and PR does. And it works. We are inundated with images of a manufactured lifestyle that we are constantly told is desirable. And believe me, a lot goes into it. In supermarkets for example, marketers know that items at eye level sell better - so manufacturers pay more to have their goods there. In retail certain colours on packaging stimulate our impulses and so make those items sell faster. In food outlets certain smells are pumped into the place to trigger desired emotions and promote hunger which makes us buy more. And of course this psychology entends to the online sphere too. Have you noticed that every online sale has a countdown timer to drive feelings of scarcity and urgency? Or that things are priced at .99 or .79 - because it manipulates you into subconsciously feeling like you are paying less? Psychology has been used as a weapon of consumption. ( But that’s a rant for another day lol.)
We’ve just never had individuals market themselves and their ideal lives at us quite so blatantly and directly before. So now people want to see more of reality, because our relationship with, and understanding of, social media has evolved, and we have also all realised that we have been mislead, lied to and manipulated through these artificial creations.
The point is that we are starting to get savvy to all of this, and so we are demanding more authenticity - and that is exactly why I DON’T think curated feeds are going away. Because for myself and many of the artists, creatives and photographers I work with, the curated feed that we pour our heart and soul into creating IS authentically us and is truly a reflection of ourselves and our work, homes and travels. It doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect - but we actually get joy from creating it, and it’s not pretending to show a perfect life, it’s showing visuals we want to share with honest anecdotes and captions in which we have something to say.
But if you hate having to come up with the next styled photo, or you feel like a fake every time you post something, then it’s not right for you. But therein lies the rub - all of this boils down to being YOUR authentic self, not following some instagram fad because someone else says so or some article tells you what the new thing is. People want to be treated as humans, and they want to connect with real humans. Because that’s beautiful and relatable. But that doesn’t mean you have to suddenly start taking tacky selfies in a public bathroom just to follow the ‘instagram aesthetic is dead’ story someone else is feeding you. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you now have to constantly TELL everyone how authentic you are - because that doesn’t work in the long term either. People will see through the lip-service eventually.
Already I have seen a number of online influencers quoting the aforementioned article and proclaiming that they are all about ‘being real’ and proposing that they’ve ‘said this all along’…in a post next to them somehow ‘candidly’ photographed as they meditate alone in their luxury villa with perfectly arranged props and their ‘Lambo’ in the drive way. Ugh. If you want to post beautifully posed pictures DO SO, enjoy the process of creation and the places you go…just don’t pretend that you are something you are not. We are all done with that.
My point? Well, just be you. Instagram can inspire, delight, connect and STILL be beautiful and stylish and most of all FUN. But above all do what feels fun and authentically you, not what someone else tells you is trending…or is ‘dead’.
Because that’s how we got here in the first place.
You do you, boo. The world (and instagram) needs real you.
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