I’ve noticed a recent trend on social media. Usually I just chalk it up to a transient craze (you know how it is with these kids), but this one doesn’t seem like it’s going away.
No one is posing anymore. Well, not in the traditional sense.
Long gone are the days of the peace sign, the hands on your hips and the smize. Instead, we’ve resorted to fake candidness; that effortless look as we sip our coffee, that fake laugh with a friend, or our placid selves slowly tucking a strand of hair behind our ear. My feed is littered with faces, but none are looking in my direction. Let’s face it, posing is passé. Being cool means being photographed when you least expect it—to show the world how immersed you are in that place in time, rather than to stop whatever you are doing to acknowledge the camera.
I guess this phenomenon isn’t new, but the difference between the duck face and the rap squat is that this one seems to have more of a psychological explanation. They’re not trying to emulate a celebrity or look better, they just want to show the world how truly effortless they are. They don’t have time to stare into the lens of a camera, they’re too busy moving around, reading, skiing, swimming, eating, jumping.
No one wants to look like they asked for a picture, they just want to be photographed being one with the environment.
Girls are taught to maintain themselves with the least effort possible. We don’t like being regarded as high maintenance, so we hide the labour involved in prettifying ourselves. We want to tell the world that we woke up like this—without eye bags and naturally rosy lips. We have mastered the no makeup makeup look and natural beach curls. We’re experts at looking inherently beautiful because that is what’s expected of us.
And that mentality has settled in social media. There’s a reason why Snapchat is one of our favorite apps; it’s because we’re not pressured into looking flawless, but ourselves. We document our daily lives without the expectation of it being beautiful or exciting. A bowl of cereal is as Snapchattable as a night out with a rockstar.
But social media is static and permanent, so we must craft it carefully. There are people who are Instagram famous precisely because they’re able to portray themselves as untouchable, perfect human beings. There is always a photographer capturing them from behind or as they do something as menial as waking up.
I suppose no one wants to be seen as a try-hard.
This paparazzi-style photographs are here to stay, and I admit I’ve done it more than a few times. But as I flipped through my old, decaying photo albums, I couldn’t help but stare at my family’s proud smiles as we traveled through Europe and Asia. How we looked at the camera in front of the Great Wall of China and pasted the widest grins we could possibly muster up. We weren’t ashamed to look like we paused to take a photo, and we definitely weren’t afraid of looking like idiots because of it.
Now, no one counts to three before snapping a picture, and no one says cheese. We all just look into the distance and refuse to stop walking, just so we’ll seem like we never wanted to be photographed in the first place.