Seven types of Instagram storytellers

Art by Zoe Rosal

We go to Facebook and have our personal information and data mined and exploited for reasons we can’t quite comprehend. We go to Twitter to watch the news cycle roll through crisis after crisis, and observe modern civilization collapse as fast as we can keep up. So it seems the only social media platform where can be properly frivolous is on Instagram. Oh, Instagram. Cutesy filters, cute people. What’s not to like?

We’ve come a long way since Amaro and Valencia filters — it’s like IG’s a whole new ecosystem now, with its own rules and characters, especially when it comes to Stories. Here are some personalities you might have encountered in the oasis of IG, where everything is a little more facetious and lighthearted, and people perform their identities in nuanced, complex ways. Sometimes.

party chronicler

The camera doesn’t come on till the sun’s down and the Cuervo’s pouring, then the Party Chronicler begins. Each story is an chaotic audiovisual assault, grainy and dim footage of a night coming off its hinges as a cacophony of yelling and early 2000’s R&B blares in the background. Song after song, dancing body after dancing body. There is no clear narrative arc to the night. Just scenarios of joy, real and performed, bleeding into each other. That’s why the Party Chronicler’s IG stories always look like a bunch of hyphens smashed together: ———————- I mean, five to eight stories is fine. But 26?

The beach is the Sailor’s main headquarters. You don’t know quite how they’re able to keep making these out-of-town trips or book so many flights. But lucky you if you’ve got a crush on a Sailor — they’re also superior thirstmongerers. Captions the Sailor always uses include (but aren’t limited to): “Beach don’t kill my vibe;” “Vitamin Sea;” “Shoreline 5/7;” that one Isak Dinesen quote about saltwater; that “beautiful morning” lyric from that one Kanye West song; and the immortal “Take me back!” No shade but palm trees, though. You can’t hate anyone who recognizes paradise, then makes it a point to go back every chance they get.

Walking their dog. Petting their dog. Nuzzling up to their dog. Or cat, or rabbit, or bird, or weirdly endearing hand-sized tarantula. Here is an individual who recognizes the highest purpose of a technology that shapes our worldviews with algorithms and shady data-mining — fluffy animal content.

God bless the Artist. When they’re not going to galleries or shooting their natural surroundings in the kind of perfect light that eludes everybody else, they’re posting #WIP’s or recent commissions. Every now and then you’ll see them showing off a new tat, or out and about in town, pulling off a look that you can’t. And that’s like, half their content. The other half is just them doing regular people stuff, and even then they make that shit cooler for some reason. If what Ralph Waldo Emerson said is true, that “beauty is its own excuse for being,” then the Artist doesn’t need to explain themselves. Unless they’re negotiating commission prices with crappy clients.

Taking cue from the advent of the Instagram poet, the Essayist takes advantage of the platform’s literary capacities and treats their IG stories like a journal. Vague text posts like “The scent of you still lingers in these sheets” or “Why is this always hard?” announce themselves like neon against a pitch-black background. It makes an odd kind of sense — what better platform to turn to for gratuitously emotional bleed-outs than one that erases all content after 24 hours? Cue a Spotify share of a Rhye song, or a highlighted passage from any book by Milan Kundera. Still, you could just make a secret Twitter.

Stacy, we ain’t even close, so why do I know exactly what three square meals you’ve had on any given day? Yesterday, it was a gibraltar and a granola bowl for breakfast. Cut to your turquoise plimsolls walking on sidewalk cement. Shot of a decorated office cubicle. Kare-kare for lunch. You run into David. David, who is now in law school! How far we’ve all come! Boomerang of the new reunion, hips shaking. Boomerang of the new intern, hips shaking. Cut to rush hour along EDSA as God’s Plan plays for an empty passenger seat. Pull up for gas. Nilaga for dinner with mom and dad. Finally you unwind for a therapeutic rewatch of Sixteen Candles. A goodnight selfie. And I could be annoyed, Stacy. But I can’t. Every tick of the clock is our bodies inching ever closer towards darkness, and if you feel that the minutiae of all our numbered days deserves to be documented and broadcasted, well, God bless you and your data plan.

In a world where image and reality is indistinguishable, the Post-Influencer thrives, laughs, embracing the trappings of digital performativity. They use the Sailor’s captions… at the swimming pool. They’re the ones on the Party Chronicler’s stories… spinning Crazy Frog. They do the squat-with-the-prayer-hands pose… at your grandma’s wake. Okay, maybe not that last one, but imagine Marcel DuChamp with an Instagram, each post slathered with a heaping helping of self-aware meta-irony. It might seem sometimes like the Post-Influencer is above it all, but they’ve got a point. Why despair at Guy DeBord’s The Society of the Spectacle when you can embrace it? Gimme that manual boomerang.