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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

why do people post Instagram Stories?

Obligatory Disclaimer: I do this too and there's no (maybe a little) derogatory intent aimed at those offended by what's to be discussed. However, if what is discussed does offend you, perhaps you should reflect on your online behavior.

According to my world view, every human action is built on selfishness, with zero exception. Even if you are going to a third world country to help those in poverty, there's a self-fulfilment that's at the core of what's driving you to do so. I recently posed this argument to someone I met that day (probably not the best first impression) who asked "what if I jumped in front of a car for someone?" Even then, there was something internal based in selfish desire that made you decide that sacrificing yourself is what you wanted to do at that moment. It's not about the consequences, but about the intent. My assumption is that this individual is no longer interested in hanging out with me in the future, to each their own.

The reason why I bring this cynical view of the world up is that under this perception, we should also deduce that posting Instagram Stories derives from some level of selfishness. I can only speak for myself as the real intent behind posting your bare legs at a beach or the same sunset view 5,000 times are things that people are most likely reluctant to be truthful about. I'm actually excited to see the feedback I receive on this post and my hope is that either I am met with complete agreement or a wildfire retaliation of "that's not true at all and you're crazy." Once again, the following are the thoughts that I have when I post on my Instagram Story - do note that these may not be the explicit thoughts that I have, in the sense that I don't outwardly think "A" which prompts me to post. Much of these are a result of reflection on such actions and conclusions that I've come up with thinking about the subconscious level as to why I find it worth my time to post my thoughts and whereabouts to an audience that probably could care less. As a reminder for those that forgot because they had to go check their Stories feed real quick, my basic assumptions on life are that (1) No one cares about you (2) Everyone is selfish.

To start at a relatively simple level (and before hitting where it hurts), I think a large majority is because it's become a routine. This is especially true when you head to a restaurant or a vacation spot and something aesthetically pleasing is in front of you. "Phone eats first" is the slogan of our generation. I don't think there's much to dig deep at this level of intent as it's rather self-explanatory and there's no ill intent. As someone who enjoys food and travel (especially in juxtaposition), there's not much I can refute here without a hypocritical tone. The one thing I'd like to note here is that there's a much better quality version of that exact picture you just took on Google so I don't necessarily buy the "because it's a good picture" reasoning. There's also the frequent "it's for the memories" - you could keep the pictures to yourself in your own phone album and the memories won't be running away.

Taking a step deeper, there definitely lies some level of subconscious thought to let people know that you're enjoying that meal and traveling somewhere exotic. This is an oversimplification, but at best it's boasting. The target audience may not be specified and your Instagram following may not even include that audience - a big part could very well be for yourself. To remind yourself that you're able to enjoy that meal and pay for that trip and explicitly remind everyone else viewing that you have the ability to eat and have companions. This leads to a very toxic atmosphere (whether you think about this or not) where everyone thinks everyone else is doing everything all the time. We never see stories of people doing mindless work, people sleeping, people actually reading a book, people deciding where to go for lunch (unless it's a poll, which I'll talk about later) or people doing absolutely nothing. You get the sense that all people do is eat, travel and repeat. It's hard to refrain from admitting that you feed that system partly because you want to be a part of it and you'd be behind if you didn't post that fish taco with the sunrise in the background.

The next category of motivation is fishing for responses. This can stem partly from boredness and another fraction from seeking attention, which could also be seen as the two large pillars of what drives social media. If the Story in question is opinionated (perhaps a meme or a repost of a social justice cause), there's an inherent desire to either provoke confirmation (getting all excited thinking about the two hands raised or the fire emojis that are about to bombard your DM's, probably correlated with how mainstream the cause is - ranging from going vegan to BLM) or trigger others, which I think both stems from the same seed. If there's no opinion behind the post, it's more likely that you're seeking the post to be a conversation starter, as DM replies are a great excuse to start a conversation with someone you are not in frequent contact with.

My final point in the previous paragraph brings me to what's probably going to hit people where it really hurts - there's definitely posts that you intend for a single person, or at least a subgroup of people. It's typically linked romantically or at least prompting a meet up or response - for example, you happened to be in town at a certain area, you know someone is there, you don't want to stoop down to the level of hitting them up directly so you bait. As low and crazy as this sounds, I'll proudly announce that I've had many around me (shamefully) confirm this to be the case. I actually don't think this is something to be shameful about, it's just another part of our generation's communication culture. Just don't refute it when you're accused of it because everyone and their mom knows who that was intended for. Anyone remember Twitter's subTweeting culture? Either I don't have the balls to do so or I'm correct in this (knowing myself, I think I'm the latter), but I'm always shocked by the number of guys who use Instagram DM's to make the first move, especially to girls they've rarely spoken to or only know them virtually. I think this is in two folds - (1) be aware that this girl (if they're of high quality) recognizes that you're creepy and has sent all of her social circle your DM and (2) these guys do this because their hit rate is higher than you think. But, to each their own.

I also want to take a step back and remind everyone that the person that finds you most important is yourself. If we surveyed all your followers, I'd argue a significant portion follow you because they're your friends but they don't really care what you're having for dinner on Saturday, another significant portion has your stories muted and the remaining .1% is waiting for the right Story to respond to. So much of social media is driven by this inherent belief that people care about what you're posting and in turn they care about you - as I've always noted before, unless you're extremely smart, rich or attractive (combinations work even better!), they don't.

Here's a brief list of other shorter sighted reasons that don't really deserve a deep "analysis," but also contribute to Story posting (and the selfish desires behind them are rather self-explanatory):

- to win a giveaway because someone famous told you to repost

- to post a good looking picture of yourself that's good but not actual post worthy

- to tell people you just posted a real post with the caption "recent" in case people missed it and like counts determine your self worth

- to promote your soundcloud or youtube account that's been accruing no views but you get the occasional fire emoji from other soundcloud or youtube account

- to let people know you're on a date but either (1) the person isn't as attractive as you want them to be (2) it's not official yet so you have to keep it lowkey, so you post a picture of the food and them but only neck down; bonus points if you tag them but make the text super small

I'll try to get better about not posting anymore and highly encourage everyone to live through their eyes not their phones. Debating if I should post about this post on my Story though.

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1 comentário

MissWritesAlot -
MissWritesAlot -
21 de jul. de 2021

when you haven't used Instagram Stories in over two years 👁👄👁

jokes aside, this was a good post.

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