Don’t tell me how to use Instagram the right way, I’m having fun

It's a lot more fun not to follow the rules.
Image: ambar del moral/mashable

Instagram has become a place where thirsty hipsters are regularly celebrated, and those who don’t follow the norms sink into a shameful oblivion. But I, for one, think these silly unspoken rules for dominating social media are a big pile of garbage and so I never follow them.

Instagram (and, frankly, every other social media platform) is supposed to let us express ourselves however we want. But ridiculous unofficial posting rules have completely taken the fun out of it.

Instagram’s own Archive feature is a prime example of this. There’s an option to hide a post from your profile if it isn’t racking up enough likes or getting as many comments as you want. It’s basically telling us we should feel ashamed of our post and letting us bury our heads in the sand.

Take my experience posting a few photos during my time at New York City’s Dream Hotel. It’s a great example of how these unsaid rules can completely ruin a good night of Instagramming.

An Instagram post some might consider deadly to my reputation.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

Let’s break down what happened for a quick second: I was at a fly hotel, and I felt like a glamorous lady for being there so of course I took loads of pictures. And my life as a budding Instagram influencer began.

The problem started after the third photo I posted that day. As you might expect from a fancy hotel post, it was a bathroom mirror selfie. I was wearing a robe. I used a Snapchat filter on Instagram, and I referenced Justin Bieber in my caption.

According to the unofficial rules of Instagram, there wasn’t a single aspect of this post that was acceptable. One of my best friends even commented on the photo telling me to “cool it on the instagram.” I actually ended up posting a fourth photo that day, and still laugh every time I remember how fun that weekend was.

The point is I don’t want to trick people into thinking I’m always looking wildly fabulous or having an amazing time, I want them to see the real me. But doing the opposite is a tempting choice for a lot of people. The question is: Why has social media become so controlled by these made up rules?

On Instagram, you can’t just smile at the camera anymore. Instead, you’re expected to post a “plandid” photo where you act like you don’t know anyone’s taking your photo (even though we all know you faked that laugh for 10 whole minutes). Posting a photo without a filter is another huge no. And you might as well dig your own grave if you accidentally like someone’s post from more than 17 weeks ago.

But on top of the posting rules, there are all these often overlooked hacks that people are using to get more followers and more likes.

@JerryFnz , WYD?

Image: Molly sequin/mashable

Users comment on and like people’s posts not because they’re actually into them, but because they want something in return. Who are you people, and why are you doing this? Why can’t you just be happy without the approval and acceptance of strangers? And don’t even get me started on all of these “Free Followers!!!!!” and “Join Now” accounts that are destroying the world (@JerryFnz I’m looking at you). If you’re not contributing something personal, get off my feed.

Instagram used to be good before Facebook bought it for about $1 billion in 2012. Before then, it was just a cute place to post quick photos of get-togethers with friends. It has since taken on all the gimmicks. The “Search and Explore” and “Discover People” features add pressure for users to create posts that aren’t only interesting for their close friends, but potentially for the whole Instagram world.

Instagram’s new algorithm only piles more onto this headache. The feed shows you what it thinks you want to see instead of a reverse chronological order of your following’s posts. This is annoying for viewers, but it also increases stress for people posting. You don’t know how many people are actually going see your post or how spaced out they’ll be from your other posts in the feed.

The moral of the story here is that all of these rules and strategies are making people way more stressed and thirsty than is probably necessary. If you’re my friend, you don’t need to spend tons of hours and even more money traveling somewhere with a cool background and curating the wittiest caption possible. I’ll still like your posts just because you’re a nice human. You might not become a so-called influencer, but who cares?

So throw out all the rules and start using social media what it was made for to have fun.

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