There’s no written rulebook to social media. But human’s knack for teetering between conformity and individuality has resulted in a set of unspoken social media guidelines the college-aged population seems to follow.
The most obvious: “like for like.” This phenomenon entails users to return the like to those followers who like their posts. It works almost as an insurance plan. Double tap on a follower’s photo, and you’re basically guaranteed for them to do the same on your next post. If you think people “like” your post because of its originality or beauty, don’t be mistaken – it is probably because you liked their post beforehand. The same goes for comments. Comments even more so require reciprocation because it is a direct and open assessment on the post. The more obvious one’s approval, the more likely it will be need to be reciprocated.
Instagram stories require no call to action from followers, which may be the reason for its inception and popularity. Under current unspoken law, Instagram stories are reserved for photos too cool not to share but not interesting enough for its own posts, which requires an obscene amount of brainpower to concoct. Nothing says "happy birthday" like 15 of your closest friends publicly acknowledging your existence via Instagram story. No governing body said it out loud but if your friend didn’t post about your birthday 1) it's not really your birthday and 2) they’re not really your friend.
As with any rulebook, a section exists for cases involving inebriation. Crazy college nights are meant to be shared with the world. But according to current unofficial social media norms, Instagram is no place to do so. This social media platform is where life looks perfectly put together like a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle assembled by a child prodigy. Snapchat is the safe haven of sloppiness. Drunken videos and pictures hold a special place here. As one might expect, each platform allows for a certain level of authenticity. Snapchat and Twitter tie in regards of most carefree and judgement free.
With all the uppityness that surrounds Instagram, it may be time to unravel the norms of social media and make the platform more casual. Humanity has expressed itself in different ways for thousands of years. Social media is just the most recent mode of self exposure.
Social media could be useful in authentically showing humanity if we tried our best not to be so planned and perfected. Summer may even be the ideal time to experiment with rebelling against the social media norm. While everyone is sharing images of vacation spots and posed group photos, posting a unedited, uninteresting, unplanned photo may stand against the rest and show the reality of life. (Also with everyone vacationing, there’s less likelihood of having to explain yourself to the masses when you go on an Instagram bender.)
Posting only the highlights of life is tempting, but it is easy. There is something to be gained by sharing the mundane and tedious aspects of humanity. So much of Instagram is just showing off the acmes of life. The perfection mentality behind Instagram perpetuates this idea that the hardships in life are not worth sharing. Tucking away hard or boring aspects of life won’t make them any more fun to got through. More casual photos and video could be the road to a more authentic sharing experience online. Don’t feel the need to like for like may use your better judgement and like a photo on some other factor besides if the owner of the post liked your last post.
Now, that the unofficial guide lines are out in the open – it's time to break them. Set fire to the rules. Give the algorithm a run for its money. It's not like Instagram shows all your followers your posts anyways.