So We All Think Instagram Is Dusty Now, Right?

Maybe it's time to embrace the flop era.

So We All Think Instagram Is Dusty Now, Right?
Photo: Getty Images/ Amanda Lauro

For years, Instagram has been considered the (mostly) unproblematic golden child of social media. Even in our toughest times, when Twitter turned into a chaotic troll-ridden cesspool and Facebook became synonymous with retirement homes (as far as Gen Z was concerned), there was Instagram, ready to welcome us with pre-crafted filters for our silly little photos, engagement announcements from friends, and updates from our favorite creators.

But within the past few months — and more specifically, the past week — the photo-sharing app has experienced a harsh and relatively swift fall from grace — and for good reason. See: IG has descended into pure pandemonium. Reels (or a knockoff version of TikTok) now reign supreme, feeds are constantly flooded with suggested posts from randos, and the algorithm only benefits paying advertisers. TL;DR: Instagram no longer feels like the app we know and love, and needless to say, people are pissed.

It's important to note that the internet's collective distaste for this new format doesn't just stop at the casual user. In fact, the "Instagram sucks" movement was backed by the queens of the app when Kylie Jenner and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian all shared the same "Make Instagram Instagram again" infographic on their Stories, prompting a response from one of the social platform's key corporate players. But while many, including the Kar-Jenner elite, like to point fingers at software updates and algorithm changes for the recent decline in positive user experiences, there may be a much bigger factor contributing to our disenchantment that no one seems ready to admit: We're all secretly narcissists.

If you, like me, have been on the app since its creation in 2010, you've experienced many phases of the Instagram experience. From editing gritty photos beyond recognition in the app (gasp!), to embracing oversaturated orange-and-teal highlight-reel-filled grids, to finally settling on the pseudo-casual photo dumping we're used to today, we've really been through it all. And now, once we're finally on our Insta A-game, know our angles like nobody's business, and can craft our pictures with enough vision to make them look straight out of a goddamn magazine spread, we naturally expect our Likes and comments to reflect that. And yet? So many of us are finding that once we send our beautiful creations out to be praised by the masses, they're instead met with …approximately 18 likes.

Now, you don't need me to tell you that social media is addictive. Not only have countless studies proven the argument, but plenty of us know the adrenaline rush that comes from posting a photo of a new haircut or scenic vacation shot and eagerly waiting for the Likes and comments to roll in firsthand — whether we'd like to admit it or not. As the platform has shifted focus from photos to video, therefore causing the level of external validation we're used to getting to plummet drastically in front of our eyes, it's only natural we've become decreasingly attached to the feeling of being chronically online and increasingly grateful for the app's "hide Like count" feature.

It's easy to sit here and say the reason we all suddenly hate Instagram is because it's impossible to keep up with our friends and family. But if we're honest with ourselves, could it be because our friends and family can no longer keep up with us? What's a delicious meal if five people aren't commenting on it? What's the perfect OOTD if it doesn't rack up 300-plus Likes from people you haven't talked to in years? At the end of the day, social media is just as much about feeling seen as it is about connection. And since Instagram is currently robbing us of both of those things, it's only natural that it's losing popularity — which, for what it's worth, may not be a bad thing.

Whether Instagram plans to make any large-scale changes to bring back the old user experience has yet to be seen (chronological feeds, please and thank you), but perhaps we should use the dustiness of Instagram to let go of some of the pressures we impose on our posting habits. Share unedited selfies! Post at midnight! Don't worry about your caption! Stop archiving your pictures! Or, you know, go outside and touch the grass. Either way, maybe it's time to embrace Instagram's flop era, baby, because none of us are getting any Likes anyways.

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