Casual Instagram is back—and it’s a breath of fresh air

Social media will always be performative, but I’m ready to bring back some reality

I’m here for unaesthetic photo dumps.

I’ve grown accustomed to the performativity of Instagram.

I’m used to seeing gorgeous, obviously posed pictures of my friends and celebrities on my feed—and I’ve normalized scrolling through my camera roll for an hour, trying to pick the perfect mirror selfie to post.

Insta-story filters shape my nose and contour my face to mimic the Kardashians—influencers post morning routines and fit checks that I can’t help but buy into.

Then came the resurgence of casual Instagram.

Like most trends, I first saw the idea of casual Instagram on TikTok. TikTok, unlike Instagram, is the hub of spontaneous posting.

There are undeniably content creators and influencers who make a living on TikTok, but their aesthetically pleasing videos are just one aspect of the app. Other aspects include unhinged humour, unedited vlogs, and unfiltered story-time videos sprinkled throughout my For You Page. Creators that I follow—and those who seem to thrive on the app—have an air of authenticity to them. 

In many ways, casual Instagram mimics the perceived ‘realness’ of TikTok.

It’s rooted in posting whatever you desire without critically analyzing posts and attempting to have a perfect feed. On casual Instagram, you’ll find posts that mirror the 2014 version of the app—blurry selfies, posts from nights out, and random pictures that represent inside jokes.

The new style of posting is nostalgic and comforting. It reminds me that real life isn’t as impeccable or consumable as it appears to be on Instagram.

Casual Instagram is also tied to the iconic “photo dumps” you’ve likely seen all over your feed for the last few months. Rather than posting just one perfectly posed picture, users are taking to posting a collection of memories, places, and food.

I love seeing pictures of my friends from blurry nights where their faces are genuinely exuding joy—and I will always scroll through photo dumps posted by people I barely know because it feels like they’re letting me see into their personality.

However behind the perceived effortlessness of posting casually is still a certain level of effort. You have to choose pictures that come across as nonchalant and attractive without being unappealing, make sure the post is relatable without being monotonous, and choose a picture that’s random without being confusing.

The act of posting casually definitely still has an aspect of performativity to it, but in all honesty, I prefer it to the aesthetic alternative.

It’s going to take a long time for me to unlearn the perfection that Instagram has demanded for so long. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I can genuinely post casually without regard for whether people find my posts interesting or attractive. I hope one day I’ll have the confidence to post without any performance involved—but I’m not even sure it’s possible.

Instagram, and social media as a whole, pushes us to brand ourselves. We’ll always post a slightly elevated version of ourselves to the internet, but it seems like we’re starting to integrate the messiness of reality into our feeds.

Casual Instagram feels like a breath of fresh air. Though the trend may be over in a few months, I’m going to enjoy the imperfect photo dumps while I can. 

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