In modern dating, and especially app dating, where we connect with people outside of the context of our immediate social networks, Instagram serves as a kind of highlight reel and first line of defense for vetting romantic prospects. And in my informal qualitative research, the lady consensus is in: there are few things more endearing on the social media scene than a guy with a lame Instagram game.
“I just really appreciate an un-photogenic man with no artistic sensibility whatsoever,” says Simone, a 24-year-old actress in New York. “That way, when my friends meet him in real life after seeing his Instagram, they’re pleasantly surprised. It’s like the opposite of getting catfished.”
“I see a lame Instagram presence as an indication that he’s self-possessed,” says Laura, a 28-year-old editorial director in New Orleans. “He’s comfortable with himself and not trying to lure a bunch of girls into his DM with his abs.”
Take heed, gentlemen of Instagram: we don’t want your tirelessly sculpted body. Not yet. Instead, give us the poorly framed pictures of your dog, the squinting selfies on a hike in Colorado, the low-resolution pictures of graffiti featuring Tupac! Give us the tacos, the washed out Arcade Fire concerts, the pseudo-artsy pics of your bros lighting cigs! Give us all of the comments from your mom.
In contrast to his highly-manicured and self-absorbed shirtless mirror-selfie-ing counterpart, there’s just something about a dude on the ‘gram who’s barely trying. It’s almost, dare I say, as appealing as a man who doesn’t have an Instagram at all. It shows that he is not concerned with image, yet still maintains a half-hearted finger on the pulse of what’s relevant. It shows he’s not playing the game, but he’s vaguely aware of the rules. It shows he appreciates a good basset hound when he sees one. It shows he loves badminton, live music, his friends and the occasional Coors Light.
There’s an intrigue, and a subtle irony in the non-curated curation juxtaposed with the quippy unpunctuated captions. It’s anti-basic; it’s normcore chic; and it begs the questions: is he being facetious in posting a picture of a tepid cup of clam chowder next to an issue of Southern Living? Is there a greater literary significance behind this overexposed picture of a seagull? Or is he just providing us with a glimpse into his quotidian reality?
This is a man of approachable mystery.
Unless you're an actual photographer, or you're Michael B. Jordan (who could post a picture of his pinky toe and it still wouldn’t be lame), you may consider dipping your own pinky toe into some lamer, and therefore more charming, Instagram posts.
Here’s how: just try less. The allure of the lame Instagram man typology is his confidence—he’s just bopping around being himself, with no pretenses, no over-calculated front. Your lame Instagram game lies inside you—as you. So trust your instincts and wing it.
Consider making approximately one in twenty photographs black and white, because why the hell not. If you feel compelled to snap pics of your hand holding random objects (like off-brand meat sticks and other gas station goodies), we’ll love you more for it. Want to share an aerial view of an unimpressive cityscape? We’ll be tickled pink. And if your thumb is accidentally in the corner of a shot, all the better.
The key is to just do you and make us wonder if you know your Insta game is lame or not, to keep us on our toes. Are we one step ahead of you, or are you one step ahead of us? In not trying to impress us, you’ll endear us, and have us sliding into your DMs to grab a Coors Light in no time.