This post was originally published on Thought Catalog.
By Kayla Klepac
I kind of hate Instagram, but that doesn't stop me from using it daily. It's a dearth of bad selfies, pets, babies, and mediocre meals. These are familiar complaints that have been made (to hilarious effect) in videos like this:
The only interesting stuff comes from people you care about in real life or from those who are famous or otherwise fabulous enough to post about exotic travels, gourmet meals, designer clothes, or unreasonable beauty/fitness/talent. It's about basting in your own FOMO (that's Fear of Missing Out, to those of you who didn't know and are probably still happy) and trying your best to inspire it in others. It's an addictive time suck, but at least now we've got something to do in awkward public situations besides fake-texting. Here are a few cliché, boring, and annoying shots to avoid.
1. The Bathtub One
I get it: bubble baths are lovely. And social media is all about sharing the things you enjoy. I'm not going to be the classy police and shout, "Harlot!" at you for this one (more of that later...), even though it seems like you want to tease people with your scandalous implied nudity. My beef with the bathtub legs shot is its ubiquity. I've seen so many, and they all look the same. I think it's swell that you bathe, lady, but I'm not wondering what's hiding beneath those suds or outside the frame. I'm wondering why the hell you have an iPhone in the bath with you.
2. The Pool/Beach One
A close relative to the bathtub shot, this IG favorite also involves pointing the camera down your reclining body. This one ups the ante because your bikini makes it kosher to include your stomach, hips, and neoprene-clad vulva in the picture. Pretense: "Guys, look at this beautiful ocean or pool!" Subtext: "My sexy legs!" I know what it feels like to bust one's ass for some lower body tone. You should be proud of it. But if you feel like flaunting your bikini bod on Instagram, do it the service of taking a better photo at a less awkward distance. Remember, you pubic mound is not your public mound.
3. The Lingerie One
Nothing gets followers and "Likes" quite like volunteering your own amateur softcore. It can be as straightforward as striking a pose in a lacy little number or as coy as a picture featuring your pet, your cup of tea, and, NBD, yourself lounging in panties. People have every right to post photos of themselves in their skivvies -- so long as you don't violate the app's rules by flashing a nipple or more -- but I worry like a conservative granny for the girls who do. I've stumbled across some in the 17- to 21-year-old range and I have serious doubts about their abilities to make a thoughtful choice. Why do you want to sext the world? Once those pictures are posted, you can never get them back. That temporary thrill that made you feel sexy and popular might get you into some trouble later. If you don't give a damn about what others think of your sex-positive hobby and have no desire for a career or relationships that can't forgive a little vivacious vanity, then I salute you. No one bashed Miranda Kerr for being a Victoria's Secret model, right? The difference is that you're stripping for free, or -- even sadder -- for "likes." One word for you, ladies: Monetize.
4. The Post-Workout One
I've been picking on girls, so allow me to call out guys for their preferred vanity shot (though women certainly aren't exempt). This is a picture to update everyone about how you've just been to the gym. Bonus points if you're flexing and still have beads of sweat on your skin. Can't wait 'til year 2035 when we have the smell-o-gram app. I've skimmed through the accounts of some dudes who are holding up their shirts to display six-packs in every other photo. Several thoughts run through my mind, and none of them are, "I'd hit it."
5. The Plane Wing One
Stop it. Isn't it dangerous to be using your cell phone in flight, anyway? Okay, "airplane mode," whatever. Stop it.
6. The Latte Art One
We've seen enough mediocre hearts, leaves, etc. Until you find a barista who can render a perfect replica of The Last Supper in milk foam, spare us.
7. The Blurry Party One
Aside from celebrating your own face and lunch, Instagram is used for bragging about your social life. You want to make sure everyone knows that you're downtown on Friday night getting sloshed with all your beautiful friends. Anyone's photography will suffer from the combination of a dimly lit bar, party people who won't sit still, and the subtle effect three beers have on hand-eye coordination. Delete the next objectively terrible picture you take at a party. Or be a true anachronism by leaving your phone in your pocket and simply have a good time.
8. The Gross Injury One
These range from boring snapshots of not-that-bad bruises to disgusting documentation of gaping wounds. If I'm happily scrolling though photos of puppies and pretty dresses, the last thing I want to see is your gnarly scrape/burn/blister/protruding bone. You have my condolences and I wish you a speedy recovery, but please restrict selfies to healthy body parts.
9. The Weed One
Congratulations on your photogenic new nugget of marijuana. I don't give a single damn about your drug use, but here's the kicker: Someone might. Even if you aren't looking for a job and your parents barely know how to text, drug pictures are still a dumb idea. This is especially true if your account is public and/or linked to other social media. Before you pose with your loaded-up pipe, recall that pot is mostly illegal.
10. The Notepad Screenshot One
Once my eyes register a screenshot of someone's virtual yellow notepad filled with some text and a bunch of exclamation points, I move on without reading. Instagram is for photos. You also have the option to write captions. You can also just get a Twitter account.
You should follow Thought Catalog on Facebook here.