First off, a confession: I have a self-diagnosed Instagram addiction. Although my IG grid is not the best out there, I have to admit that I spend a great amount of time curating my feed and overanalyzing each post before finally hitting the share button. It takes me forever to decide on a filter (perpetually torn between VSCO's A6 and HB2, tbh) and an even longer time trying to sound smart—or witty, at the very least—when it comes to my captions (you see, I try my best not to settle for emojis). To say that I am obsessed is an understatement, and I even have a very specific way of how I want to edit my photos: high contrast, desaturated, a bit faded, and usually as bright as day.
As you read this, I can tell that half of you can relate and are simply nodding in agreement. But as for the other half, I'm quite sure you're already jumping into conclusions and judging me right now—"This girl is narcissistic to the core," complete with a set of rolling eyes, I bet. And I do understand why you might think that way. For one, here's a story we've all heard before: Social media is a lie. Don't believe in everything you see on Instagram. All of them, most especially those who try so hard to become #feedgoals, are a fake bunch of losers in real life.
Being a so-called "instahoe," which is the millennial term for an IG-obsessed person such as myself, I've come across my fair share of acquaintances who stereotyped me as a certain kind of person just because I edit my photos a specific way. I was made a laughing stock for posting pictures of latte art and for holding up an ice cream cone to take a quick snap before it starts to melt—apparently, these are called “basic b*tch” moves. (Basic, because everybody posts the same thing, i.e. palm trees, inflatable donuts, a bowl of cereals, and practically anything shot on top of a white duvet cover.) Every time we'd walk by a fairly cool backdrop, they'd instantly turn to me—"Uyy, there's a brick wall! Sige na, mag-OOTD ka na! (Go take your OOTD!)" or "Naks! Blogger!" All of which are sarcastic, by the way.
Suffice to say, I became the butt of a plethora of Instagram-related jokes. And for a while, this negativity made me believe that taking OOTDs and selfies meant I'm so full of myself, that overthinking my caption game is something to be ashamed of, and that it's almost as if I'm committing a mortal sin by wanting to choose a signature filter.
Fifty shades of green (and yellow)
In effect, I kept myself from posting as often as I used to. I even tried to abide by the unspoken rule coined by the cool kids of Instagram: Thou shall not post consecutive photos of thyself. Hence, the abundance of unnecessary fillers on my feed a.k.a. meaningless pictures of trees and the skies plus random “artsy shots,” some of which I’d have to rack my brains trying to figure out a befitting caption for.
Somehow, the notion of authenticity being synonymous to not caring about social media presence has sneakily crept its way to societal norm. As it turns out, “being real” meant we’re not supposed to go the extra mile in order to achieve a double tap-worthy Instagram photo. It is supposedly pretentious to care so much about filters and editing apps—although I’ve found it quite ironic, really, because the more I tried not to care, the more I felt like a hypocrite. Every fiber of my being couldn’t help but see it for the baloney that it is. I think to myself, what does being genuine have anything to do with owning a #nofilter yet achingly boring Instagram account filled with poorly shot and badly angled photographs? Ha, I guess a person can’t be naturally creative.
It has always puzzled me why no one talks differently about those who curate their Instagram content. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I’d like to believe we're simply visual people who value aesthetic. Yes, I spend so much time and effort editing my photos and trying to make everything look perfect—sorry to disappoint you, but it's not always about vanity or narcissism. Although if I like my outfit and I want to snap an OOTD, is that such a bad thing? Or if it's a good hair day and it took me more than an hour to do my makeup, is it so wrong to take a selfie or two? And please, this isn’t about scoring “likes” and “followers” either. It’s a form of expression, as cliché and dramatic as that may sound. In a way, you can even think of it as your visual calling card. Each photo, down to its colors or the lack of it, tells a story—and there’s a bigger picture that some people unfortunately fail to see.
I, for one, have had enough of caring whether or not people think I’m legit cool or just trying to be cool. Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have a pending Instagram upload to attend to—and heaven knows how long it’s gonna take for me to decide between A6 and HB2 this time around.