10 Rules Of Basic Instagramming Etiquette Everyone Should Know

Rachel Baran
Rachel Baran

We’ve all been there. You’ve chosen the right filter, amped up the contrast, and captioned the hell out of an overhead photo of the most perfect latte foam heart you’ve ever seen. You’re just about to hit “Post” when suddenly you find yourself wondering: did I just step cross the border into Basic Borough? Well fear not, ladies! If you’ve ever come down with a case of FOBB (Fear of Becoming Basic), here are some tips to help keep your Instagram a basic-free bastion:

1. Food Posts

There’s nothing wrong with snapping a pic while you’re enjoying a succulent steak au poivre on a pied-a-terre in the South of France or even just taking a mini-culinary excursion to K-Town for a little BBQ with pals. Go ahead and document your little treat. You’ve earned it! But no one’s earned the right to post every Pop Tart and Hot Pocket that makes it into their sweet pink little mouths. I love frozen yogurt. I eat it anywhere from 1-7 times a week. Some might categorize that as an obsession. Those people don’t know how many cans of Diet Coke I go through in a week. But you’d be hard pressed to find any photographic evidence showcasing this #froyo obsession.

I also had a lovely, expertly plated brunch last Saturday in a darling new restaurant that served French toast in personal griddles and iced tea in mason jars. MASON JARS. And alas, nary an IG pic anywhere in sight. You know why? Because that shit ain’t of note in any way whatsoever. 10 years from now when you’re trying to get your screaming toddler to eat two more bites of chicken nuggets while finishing up a brief that’s due in an hour, are you going to look back on that picture and think, “Ah, yes. The cake batter-chocolate swirl with mini M&Ms of November ’15. What a sweet breath of nostalgia.” No, girl. You’re going to think, “Who cares about mini M&Ms? I have a mortgage to pay!” And now I gotta get more frozen yogurt after this. Damn it! Thanks a lot.

2. Posts about How Much You Want Food

In the time you took to post that “Pizza is forever” typograph you screenshot-lifted from Etsy, you know what you could have done? Ordered an entire pizza. But you didn’t because it’s never the people who actually live a “Pizza is forever” lifestyle who feel the need to post about how much they love pizza. They’re too busy eating it. So now you’re just dragging pizza’s good name into one big lie. How dare you? And this includes “I need coffee” posts. Trust me, no one understands the need for caffeine more than I do. As I mentioned before, I drink an embarrassing amount of Diet Coke each day. But we live in a soda-shaming society and Super Big Gulps don’t photograph so well, so my IG remains DC free. Nevertheless, actions speak louder than words so just go get you a cup.

3. Posing

Everyone poses for pictures, but there’s a difference between believable posing and trying-too-hard. If I see you at work 5 days a week mean mugging all day like your 401k depends on it, I’m not then going to buy the 42 “candid” photos of you laughing in perfect lighting outside Starbucks or Urban Outfitters or the DMV. We all want to look good in pictures, but for the love of God try to act natural. If you don’t have reverse scoliosis and your back doesn’t bend backwards at a 45 degree angle, then don’t suddenly bust that out when it’s picture time. And please, try to keep your mouths closed. The Internet is a dangerous place for open-mouths.

4. Inspirational Quotes

Count how many of your IG posts are inspirational sayings and/or quotes. Some of you may need an abacus or two for this. There’s nothing wrong with looking to people you admire for a little motivation every now and again. In fact, I encourage it! However, if you’re coming in over 10 (and that’s real generous), it might be time to pump the brakes. Inspirational quotes are meant to motivate, but the more “Bitches Get Shit Done” and “A smile is a woman’s best accessory” posts you upload, the more tired it becomes.

At the very least, spice it up a little! I wanna see the #bodypositive Nicki Minaj classic “I’m tired of hiding my motherf**kin’ cellulite” stamped over a babbling brook or some sage gold-foiled suggestions from Dickie Flossie on which Whisky is best sipped from a Good Day Spokane coffee mug written in gold foil. That lady really seems like she’s got it all figured out.

5. & 6. Captions & Comments

Take a second to think about your last few Instagram captions and/or comments. Do you consciously misspell words? How often do you use the word “favorites” as a noun? Are you often struggling to find synonyms for “amazing,” “everything,” “this,” and “all the feels”? What are your all-caps numbers coming in at? What it really comes down to is portion control and authenticity. How much Biggie is on your iPhone right now? None? Then maybe exhibit a little self-control with the use of words like “tight” and “dope.” It’s no longer ironic and you’re tap dancing along the line of cultural appropriation.

And while we’re on the subject, please treat “slay” with care. We don’t want to see it go down the same road as “YAAS QUEEN.” It saddens me to have to say it, but the praise hands emoji has now crossed over to the basic side. We had a good run, praise hands, but I just have to let you go. And it’s a real shame too because The Life of Pablo makes me feel like one praise hands emoji after another after another. Wait, Views from the Six comes out in April? And Kanye’s dropping a second album this summer? Alright, never mind praise hands, you can stay.

7. ‘I’m Sooo Boring’ Posts

This is a little thing I like to call “The Liz Lemon Effect.” It’s a hallmark of the Basic Instagrammer. Once 30 Rock was made available on Netflix, a new era of girls trying to out-lame each other was born. Ever since, my Instagram feed littered with selfies of girls in bed with their laptops captioned “#turnt” or photos of donuts labeled “Date Night w/ Bae” or a myriad of other posts that scream “Look how quirky and pathetic I am!” Liz Lemon is relatable because there’s a little piece of her buried deep down in each of us, not because she advertised her love of 8 AM Mexican cheese curls for the world to see. So truly take a page from Lemon’s book and keep that stuff to a minimum. Or at the very least save it for Facebook where I have the option to hide your posts.

8. Hashtags

Ah, hashtags. The lifeblood of the Instagram Basic. Don’t get me wrong, hashtags can be great. Looking to shake up your makeup routine? Take a little stroll down #MOTD lane. Looking for a little Monday gym inspiration? #Fitspiration is the tag for you! Ain’t feeling a sense of community with strangers grand? But there is such thing as hashtag abuse. Quality over quantity is the name of the game. If your new haircut ‘gram is accompanied by #haircut, #haircutonpoint, #newdo, #haircutswag, #shorthairdontcare, #haircutonfleek, #hair, #cut, #follicle: it’s time to seek help.

Recently, I’ve noticed an interesting development in the world of basic hashtag use. Sometimes when a Basic is feeling particularly meta, they use the hashtag “#basicaf” when posting something stereotypically basic like a freshly manicured hand clutching a Frappuccino. It’s like a little wink letting us all know they’re in on it too. Oh, Basics, you’re incorrigible!

9. Outfits

#OOTD is the best and worst thing to happen to Instagram. When done right, it’s a great way to pick up some wardrobe tips from people of all shapes and sizes all over the world. When done the basic way, it’s a great way to pick up some tips on what to throw on to go to Target. Rainbow sandals and flannel do not an #OOTD post make. Have a little respect for the professionals out there. If you’re really feeling yourself one day and feel the need to share your outfit with the world, fine. Otherwise, unless you’ve found the perfect way to make Timberlands work-appropriate, you’re clogging up my feed.

10. Selfies

I’ve come to learn that selfies are a necessary evil in social media, but if you’re gonna do them, do them right. And by right I mean sparingly. Do you know how hard it was to take pictures in the 1800s? When daguerreotypes first hit the scene in 1839, people sometimes had to sit still for 15 minutes in order to have their picture taken. Not to mention that shit was expensive at $5 a pop, which was equivalent to about a week’s worth of wages. So, before you post your next “new lipstick” selfie, take a moment to picture Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre rolling in his grave. If it passes the Daguerre-Roll Test, then post away! TC mark

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