In defense of Instagram story trends

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to seek out social media for attention and validation right now.

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It’s been about a month of lounging around at home social distancing, and social media is one of the only things that can temporarily ward off the boredom. You hop on Instagram and start scrolling through your feed, which is inundated with self-timer photo shoot sessions and social distancing group photos. You tap on your friend’s story icon and it’s yet another poorly-edited photo of Bill Clinton surrounded by several of your friend’s favorite albums.

While everyone is stuck at home it seems that new online trends are cropping up left and right, fueled by boredom and a tendency to overshare. If you’re an Instagram user, you have probably picked up on one of the most noticeable patterns: Instagram story trends.

These come in the form of shareable templates created by users who intend to capitalize on the Insta-fame that comes from a template going viral. Some of the popular templates include 30-day song challenges (share a different song every day for 30 days) and various themed bingo games that involve marking off things you’ve done before. My personal favorite is the aforementioned Bill Clinton template that allows you to fill in your favorite albums, making it appear as though Clinton himself is listening to your music.

It seems that these trends are popular among almost every type of Instagram user: parents, teens and kids; even those who don’t normally utilize the stories feature on Instagram. Even @mizzou has hopped on the bandwagon, sharing “This or That” templates that prompt its student following to repost and choose between the Columns or Jesse Hall, and Harlan or Truman the Tiger. There is a reason for this popularity, which seems to transcend age and gender. Most of these templates, in an effort to go viral, include a section in which to tag friends, which notifies those users. Tagging people implies that those users should then perpetuate the trend by posting it to their own stories, and so on. Soon enough, users from all over the globe post the template, and it becomes cemented in the long list of popular Instagram story fads, if only for a day or two.

For some social media users, the incessant posting of personal confessions using “Have You Ever” bingo challenges and other templates has become too much. Admittedly, after 15 days of posting the 30-day song challenge to my story, I feel a bit guilty about subjecting my followers to an unsolicited song post every day.

Though the constant influx of bingo games, challenges and other story trends may be tiring, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to seek out social media for attention and validation right now. Many people are staying with family members and relatives who don’t contribute to a great social environment for them, and others are isolated alone. These trends, while they can become excessive, can also provide a healthy and much-needed distraction from the monotony of this new normal. They can promote virtual socialization and establish a daily routine, which is welcomed now that many people’s days have become loose and unstructured.

Additionally, there’s always the option of simply not watching others’ stories if they become overwhelming or frustrating. But if you’re inclined to participate, Instagram story challenges are a fun way to occupy your time and engage with friends virtually. We all deserve a little break right now.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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