Keeping it gritty on the Gram
A new generation of influencers is letting it all hang out as they give followers a look at real lives
At the beginning — or at least in October 2010 — there was Instagram, an online photo-sharing service that now has more than 1-billion users. Back then, the “Gram” was full of famous people sharing stylised, high-contrast photos of themselves eating fancy meals and posing in front of pink walls and enjoying themselves.
Life on the Gram was good and it was prosperous, especially for a new category of people who had never existed before and were called “influencers” and got paid millions of dollars to take stylised, glossy, fashion-mag photos of themselves enjoying products and parties and creating envy and desire among millions of millennials.
But times change and social media is driven by the tastes and aspirations of young people, and as those evolve so must the Gram. While over the last few years there has been a proliferation of Instagram-oriented pop-up museums, shops and specially created bathroom walls looking to attract the attention of influencers, this trend seems to be fading fast, says a new report in The Atlantic.
According to the report, the age of influencers dragging camera equipment to beaches and learning to photo edit so as to give their shots that glossy, high-fashion magazine look is disappearing as a new generation of influencers adopt a far more messy, “real” approach to giving their followers a glimpse of their lives. As Reese Blutstein, a 22-year-old influencer with 238,000 followers told the magazine, “For my generation, people are more willing to be who they are and not make up a fake identity … We are trying to show a real person doing cool things like a real person, not trying to create a persona that isn’t actually you.”
This attitude is also extending to beauty-product producers and other advertisers who rely heavily on Instagram likes to promote their products. So-called “beauty influencers” have stopped showing the traditional package shots of products in favour of shots that show their “empties” finished bottles of used products.
The change can also be measured by the sharply declining interest in the US in places such as LA’s Happy Palace, which opened in 2017 and described itself as “the most Instagrammable pop-up in America”, charging $30 ($199 for VIP) for admission to its collection of pretty walls for using as photo backdrops. When the museum opened up in Boston in April, hardly anyone cared.
It may also be related not only to a change in tastes among young people but also to changes to the platform, which now includes Instagram stories and TV — which allow for the uploading of video clips and live streams that demand more from their producers than simple flat photos of prawn cocktails on shiny white table linen. How long this “keeping it real” aesthetic will last remains to be seen, but for now, if you’re planning to hit those high numbers of likes, best to just point the camera at yourself in your bathroom, type out a line about the weather and hope for the best — you’re more likely to get approval than if you spend a day looking for a perfect pink wall to pose against.