As of this post, the seven members of BTS have only had individual Instagram accounts for less than a week, but already they’ve inspired me to become a regular Instagram user again.
I was never a big Instagram user to begin with, but in the past few years my usage of the app dwindled to one post every several months (the exception being when I studied abroad in France. Gotta post those #travel photos).
Part of the decline was due to the fact that I was overwhelmed by the prospect of regular posting. Part of it was that I don’t take a lot of the photos that seem to fit Instagram’s aesthetic, if I stop to take a picture at all. Part of it was that I didn’t like how performative and inauthentic it felt—I felt pressure to present myself and my life in a cohesive, curated way, while simultaneously watering it down so that it broadly appealed to people who didn’t know me well, as well as to people who did.
While Facebook gave the option of sharing photos or starting discussions, Instagram’s photo-reliance seemed to push the user to focus on image over content. That’s why, when I started to grow out of Facebook, I moved to Twitter instead of Instagram. I do know people who use Instagram in healthy and authentic ways (I recently had a conversation with one of my housemates on that same topic), but it was personally simpler to disengage rather than find healthy ways to engage with the app.
I mainly use Twitter to follow authors I like and other writing/publishing industry professionals. (I also made a separate stan account for BTS, as they mainly used Twitter to communicate with their fans, who are called Army.) I do really enjoy the conversations that happen on Twitter surrounding writing and publishing and politics, though those, too, can fall prey to not enough nuance and the vitriol that happens on any social media platform.
However, keeping in touch with people over social media fell to the wayside. I reasoned to myself that if interesting things happened, I could just tell the people in my life about them the next time we met up. That reasoning might have held before I graduated college and before friends moved away from Grand Rapids or simply got too busy with work and life to be able to meet up regularly. Oh, and before Covid.
Needless to say, it’s a good time to reconsider my relationship with social media, and how I could use it better to connect with those in my life. It just so happened that a parasocial relationship was the catalyst.
The way that the members of BTS use Instagram so far has been all over the place. Some seem to have Instagram all figured out with an aesthetic already being built, and others are asking Armys for help on what the vibe of Instagram is. Their photos are sometimes stylistic and sometimes just a picture of their dinner or pet. It’s at once the same level of familiarity they’ve had with Army in the past and somehow more personal, a wider window into their lives outside of their official schedules.
Kim Namjoon, in particular, has inspired me to start sharing everyday beautiful moments. His profile mainly consists of photos of what Army has termed “Namjooning”—going to art museums and wandering around nature. Rather than posting only when I go somewhere interesting or fancy, I want to use Instagram in a similar relaxed and relaxing way—just sharing the small moments in my life that make it beautiful.
And, of course, I’m going to downsize my follows so I see fewer meme pages and influencers and more posts from the people I care about in real life (as well as Army life).
Lauren Cole (’20) graduated with a major in English and minors in French and psychology. She grew up in Grand Rapids and wants to live as she wants to die—surrounded by trees. She loves adding books to her TBR, but actually reading them is another matter.