Arts, Featured Column, Column

Instagram: Walking a Virtual Red Carpet

“Do it for the Insta.”

According to my observations, the kids these days are saying it now more than ever before. Whether it’s in reference to some kind of dare or even a fun little day trip to the beach, people seem to have developed this social-media-obsessed habit of planning their free time around, of all things, their Instagram accounts.

Now don’t get me wrong—like most rotten millennials, I can appreciate a good Instagram post when I see one. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never glanced at the accumulating likes on my own photos and momentarily thought with a slight smirk, “hey kid, you done good.” But for the life of me, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the conversation I heard between two girls online shopping in the Chocolate Bar. It went a little something like this:

Girl #1: “OMG, look at this dress. So cute.” I couldn’t help but glance over. Let the record show that it was, indeed, a very cute dress.

Girl #2: “Wait, you have to buy that now. Even if you don’t have an event or anything, do it for the Insta.”

In layman’s terms, the gist of the conversation was as follows: “Buy this very expensive dress (even though you don’t need to) so that you can post a photo of yourself wearing it in exchange for digital affirmation of approval.”

I notice this happens often with music festivals and concerts. If your social media feeds were flooded with West Coast college kids sporting tiny crop tops and flash tattoos this weekend, or if that weird flower crown Snapchat filter from a few days ago wasn’t enough of a dead giveaway already, let me be the first to officially welcome you to Concert Season 2016. This past weekend marked the three days of Coachella, and many of the featured snapchats were not of performers, but of selfies taken only to show off of the boho-chic outfits.

That’s right, concert-going girls who weave wildflowers in their hair like it’s no big deal, it’s concert season. Pair your “edgy,” black high tops with a sundress and snapchat your experience of watching Kygo perform. Dust off your mom’s overalls from the early ’80s and claim they’re still in style, because this is Coachella, and society says you better look cute.

Though it’s no Bonnaroo, my 14-year-old sister has been on the hunt for the perfect outfit to wear to an upcoming Justin Bieber concert. Apparently, my suggestion of “um … pants and a T-shirt?” wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. Rolling her eyes in my direction, she replied, “Hannah, come on. I have to do it for the Insta.” Obviously, I couldn’t argue with that logic. I mean, as Descartes definitely said one time, “I think I look super cute, therefore I am super cute.”

The other day, to my ultimate chagrin, I noticed that I had done the exact same thing. On the Sunday before Marathon Monday, I called my mom.

“Hey mom, I have nothing to wear for tomorrow,” I said, looking wistfully into my closet at clothes that definitely would have worked just fine. Hesitating, my mom said, “Well, what do you mean?”

And then it hit me. I was my little sister—the only difference was that my event was far cooler than watching a Canadian kid lipsync to his own pop music.

Full disclosure, guys, I’m no fashion expert—and I don’t pretend to be. My method for choosing outfits doesn’t extend any farther than me throwing on articles of clothing I forgot I owned, trusting whatever it is looks presentable with Converse, and calling it a day. I’m pretty sure it was Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night who said, “Some are born stylish, some achieve stylishness, and some have stylishness thrust upon them.” Whatever way you spin it, I think he might have forgotten my category.

Though I wasn’t consciously choosing an outfit for the Instagram ‘wow factor’—believe me, I decided on gym shorts and a T-shirt, happy as a clam—some part of me felt like I needed something new—a never-debuted-before Marathon Monday outfit. Embarrassed at my foolishness, I realized this happens often, and—unless abstaining from social media is your thing—no one is safe.

The worst part is, I can’t think of any way to fix it.

Featured Image By the Associated Press

April 20, 2016