Has Instagram Gone Back to its Original Purpose?

New year, old IG

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Keeping up with your online presence can end up being quite difficult if you ask me. Especially when it comes to staying active on Instagram. Not long after its inception, we all fell under the spell of overly edited pictures, heavily curated feeds that more often than not were viewed as the online portal to ourselves. 

Having somewhat of a coherent mosaic of pictures unarguably was the main focus for most people throughout the late 2010s. We all know it was a major headache to have to keep up with. Things might be changing for the better, though.

In 2020, a report from the Wall Street Journal confirmed what most of us know already knew: Instagram impacts our mental health negatively and the Facebook-owned app admits it. The study claims that “the tendency to share only the best moments, a pressure to look perfect and an addictive product can send teens spiralling towards eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies and depression”. 

But we might just be finally saying goodbye to the meticulously curated feed—and it’s all thanks to Instagram’s feature: the slideshow, or the carousel as some like to call it. 

The feature, which was initially released in 2017, has found a new purpose since 2020. It’s called the ‘photo dump’, and it’s changing how we use Instagram yet again. 

When the app first released, it was purely for photography, to visually share what most of us were up to on the reg, whether that was going out for coffee with your friends, or random shots from your holidays. You only had a handful of filters to play with, not even a story feature. Just look at what the founders were posting when they first launched their app. And lately, it seems like we’re settling back into that era via photo dumps. 

Photo dumps are cool again. Instead of a perfectly posed photo, or a heavily-edited selfie, it’s random snapshots that are Instagram’s newest currency.

The rise of the photo dump might have something to do with the pandemic. With COVID having been around for the past couple of years, most of our daily routines have become quite monotonous. Realistically, there’s only so much you can do being stuck at home. That’s probably when we collectively began to appreciate the little things—and snap photos of them. 

 

Whether it’s the coffee cup at your local café, the last-minute dinner-in with your fling, the sunsets you can catch from your window, or even just the memes that made you laugh – that’s what the photo dump is all about. Welcome to the Instagram of 2022 where we finally say goodbye to enviously lurking at your favourite celebrities, and highly curated influencer lifestyles. Even they are caving into the more simplistic approach of the photo dump. Take YouTuber Emma Chamberlain or Bella Hadid as an example. 

There’s a reason why we’ve all come around. Photo dumps are relatable. They seem far more natural than the content we’ve been consuming for the past decade. Photo dumps are made to look like you are not looking to please anyone but yourself and your circle of mates. 

To be cool today, is to be nonchalant, blasé even. But that’s not to say they don’t require a lot of effort, still. The art of the photo dump is delicate, you never want to look like you’re trying too hard. But just because we’re falling on the other side of the spectrum of curation, doesn’t make it always authentic.

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