Harvard Hero Moments #26: 9 things I love to hate about Instagram

Jo Franklin-Wright

26 Mar 2020

My name's Jo and I'm an Insta-holic. Not to trivialise any form of addiction, but we all know smartphone and social media addiction is real. The moment I realised I had something inching towards a problem was towards the end of 2018's Love Island season. Yes, it was summer. And yes, I was home every night at 9pm watching the show and tuning in to Aftersun, which is much worse than the show itself. It was the first time I'd ever got into the Love Island hype and this new hobby coincided with the height of Instagram fever for me. I was waking up and the first thing I was putting in my field of vision every day were the brilliant memes from Sideman, or posts from one of Dani Dyer's family on how much of a special/awful time/psychotic break she must have been having that day. GRIPPING. Instagram is one of those things we all feel is a bit harmless, a bit of fun. It's like Facebook without the rambly statuses and aunties. But like everything we love, there are always things we find utterly irritating. From my time on the platform - and from aggressively canvassing others on this quarantined afternoon - I've come up with nine of the cringiest things people do on Instagram and should stop immediately. Some (many) of them I've fully succumbed to myself and I'm sure you have too. So let’s take a light hearted gambol down troll lane all and remember, it's only a bit of fun eh? :)
My all-time top pet peeve? Using and abusing the main feed when Stories would be sufficient. Posting 10 main feed photos from the same event. Don't do it! Just bundle them into a cute little album and save us all. Main feed is quite a sacred space for impactful posts, Stories are for endless posts about nights on the razz.
If you're going to do a boomerang, try and make it look like something funny is happening so people want to watch it again and again – not something super mundane like twirling your hair backwards and forwards ad infinitum. If you want examples of terrible boomers please take a look at this amazing Bad Boomerangs account and you’ll see what I mean: https://www.instagram.com/bad_boomerangs/?hl=en
"This guy" / "this girl" / "these ones" / "my faves" "Sunday Funday" "Not bad for a Monday" / "Office for the day" accompanied by a view of Seychelles beach "I'll just leave this here" "So I did a thing" These mostly fall into the category of what you might call a minimalist humblebrag, which Instagram is a devastating hotbed for – and they pretty much all speak for themselves.
You know that thing where people ask really inane, forced questions to get engagement in comments? Example: "What a lovely day for a walk - do you prefer your right foot or your left foot?"
Posting two or more photos in an album of your face that are basically identical. Kylie Jenner does this, but I think we let her because her face is weirdly fascinating.
The use of Instagram Stories to announce a new post. Utter madness. Often accompanied by an oversized emoji covering the post so you go and have a look at the main feed. If I follow you and like your stuff on the reg, you'll be in my feed, that's how it works. (I appreciate there is probably more science behind it than this and it might have something to do with influencers losing followers, sorry if it is).
  1. #SPON #AD
There isn't anything inherently wrong with Instagram ads, I have recently bought some absolutely delightful tat from there. But posts that are so far from a celebrity/influencer’s brand are gold. I maintain that Khloe Kardashian pushing bejewelled Febreze will not be topped.
In the words of brilliant content creator and editor of EveryQueer.com, Meg Ten Eyck, there is "so much Facetune the walls are curved". And my personal favourite, people sitting on their sofas with dog filters on doing absolutely nothing but turning their head right and left. Nice one.
When I first started earnestly using Instagram, as a member of LGBTQ+ family I felt it my moral duty to call out to my fellow tribe by rinsing every LGBT hashtag going. Turns out the only thing that got rinsed was me, by my friends, on a far too regular basis. Shamed into silence, I never realised my (never held) dream of being an LGBT+ influencer. But through the process I realised how mental overusing hashtags really is, so play safe kids. I'd like to take this moment to remind people to take a real long hard think about hashtags, and delve back into the archives of #susanalbumparty and #WaitroseReasons in this post. Granted they're from Twitter's heyday, but still gold. The above is a rant, yes. But I'd like to posit that this is also a love letter to Instagram and a plea for people to continue being their kooky, mental best selves and posting whatever makes them happy... while at the same time providing fodder for blogs like this because we love to hate the things we love. The bits I really do love about Instagram are many and varied. The reason I still open this app often before anything else in the morning (still working on it) is because this app has so much going on in it. The celebs who do their Instagram Lives, the people who dress their cats up as RuPawsDragRace contestants, the little filters on Stories that tell you which Disney character you are (yep I'm quite basic too). I'm into it. So into it. And during "these trying times" as everyone keeps saying, I've been putting out some more Stories with questions to get people to talk to me and tell me things like their favourite podcasts, to help me get out of the wall-to-wall coronavirus echo chamber. Earlier I was inundated with movie and telly suggestions after posting my apocalypse watch list. I love connecting with these humans but as someone that identifies somewhere on the introvert spectrum, I clearly prefer it to be in little boxes in an app. People getting together while apart is the best thing about this enforced isolation, so get into it. Just don't ever use Facetune. Ever.