Our Instagram Stories are awash with snapshots of our everyday lives. But, now that there’s a hidden trove reserved for our most private — and dare-I-say basic — snaps. Instagram’s already-very-high bar for posts has crept to a scary new height.
Recently, somewhere between posting photos of chilled glasses of rosé and intricate latte art on my Story, I noticed a drastic shift in the way I was using the app. So drastic that I’m frozen by self-doubt when I go to post anything on my main grid.
A few weeks ago, I did something I’ve been doing for years: I uploaded a photo to Instagram. That sunny evening, I casually posted a snap of my garden on my Story complete with a “lit” sticker. But, when I went to share a similar photo on my main feed, I hesitated for a moment. “Is this really Insta-worthy?” I asked myself. My finger hovered nervously over the “Share” button. I hit the button and instantly regretted it. I worried that the photo wasn’t good enough, that it was too basic. I opened and closed the app five times before eventually opting to delete the photo entirely.
Way back when Stories didn’t exist, I had no qualms about posting shots of my food, cocktails or photos of me and my friends on a night out. But, fast forward to the present day, those photos wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near my Instagram grid.
In that moment, it dawned on me just how much Stories has changed the way I use the app. I now feel an added pressure to post only unusual, entertaining and *importantly* high quality photos and video. There’s definitely no room for basic selfies or latte art.
I am not the only one who feels this way. Blogger Vicky Charles says that before Stories first came out she “wasn’t really bothered” about what she posted on her Instagram. But now she’s “paying more attention” to her Instagram after realising she’d been posting too much, and at the wrong times.
“I started putting the general “this is my day” stuff on Stories, and started using my profile for the better shots, which I started posting at a more specific time of day,” says Charles. “I think the bar is definitely higher,” she continued, as people now post “much more staged shots”.
Travel blogger Fabio Virgi says he’s now a lot more selective these days as the standard for quality on Insta is significantly higher. “Stories definitely made a big impact because as a travel blogger, people want to see a lot of your behind the scenes stuff. If you’re sharing that live via your Story, then there’s less need for a dedicated post,” he says.
Virgi says Stories are a useful alternative when the lighting on a photo isn’t quite right, or you haven’t managed to get that “ideal” shot. He says posting it on your Story means you can avoid the “worry of quality and judgement”.
Fitness trainer Julia Buckley says that she’s also felt a noticeable shift on Instagram, but she’s found it “quite liberating”.
“Because stories will only be around for 24 hours, I’m more relaxed about what I post there,” says Buckley. “But, yeah, I probably have started to feel like the images on my main Instagram need to be higher quality now.”
“In the photos and videos I post in Stories I’m not usually wearing any make-up, if it’s first thing in the morning I probably won’t have even brushed my hair,” says Buckley. She says she likes showing her authentic self on Stories so people can see the difference between the kind of images fitness Instagrammers post and how they look in real life.
But, by only sharing our authentic selves on Instagram Stories and not on our grids, are we widening the divide between the authentic and fake on Instagram? Since noticing the shift in my Insta-habits, I’m making a more conscious effort to ease off the pressure on posts. I don’t want to censor my posts for fear of being too basic or mundane. After all, what’s wrong with being basic?