Let’s play Insta-boast bingo: From perfect sunsets to sporty show-offs

From perfect sunsets to sporty show-offs, Stuart Heritage calls out the biggest clichés in social media bragging.

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Wanderlust 🌏

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Once upon a time Instagram was fun. You’d post a picture of your dinner, three of your friends would ‘like’ it and that would be that. Well, not any more – this once harmless pastime is now an endless game of boasting, with everyone picking the smuggest snapshots of their lives, feeding them through filters and posting them to make the rest of us feel bad. Recognise any of these Instagram show-offs?

The home renovation

Usually posted by people who have a house just like yours, except they’ve spent a fortune on improvements. Walls are knocked through. Extensions erected. Rugs handmade by blind artisans are flown in from Morocco. ‘Maybe we need a bespoke Scandi sofa, too’, you think as you gradually become less happy with your previously adored abode. ‘How can we live without a roll-top bath made of hand-hammered chrome?’ Then you look up the price of roll-top baths and resign yourself to a life of discount inferiority.

The bath selfie

Speaking of baths, nothing is quite as boasty as people who Instagram their own perfect bathing routines. The lighting is soft. The bubbles are just so. There’s a glass of perfectly chilled white wine, lit candles and a critically acclaimed work of literature. The caption will read ‘#bliss’. And you will think ‘How?’ This is not what your bathtime is like – yours involves folding yourself into a too-small tub with your knees around your ears, while you try to ignore the three-year-old hammering on the door and screaming, ‘I need a poo!’

The personal papper

Behind every great Instagrammer is a weary spouse; (usually) a man, doomed to spend his life crawling around the floor photographing his influencer partner from just the right angle. Lately, I’ve noticed an incredibly boasty trend: people posting pictures of their husbands taking photos of them, having somehow hired a third person to snap them posing for a photo. Where will this end? With a fourth person? A fifth? A conga line of people taking pictures of people taking pictures?

The fitness injury

Typically, Instagram exists for other people to show how perfect their lives are. However, there is a certain type of man who uses it to show the world how tough he is. After CrossFit they’ll post pictures of their calloused hands. After a bike race, they’ll post pictures of their bleeding legs. After a boxing class, they’ll post pictures of their missing teeth. By ‘a certain type of man’ I’m referring to my brother, but I know there are more of them.

The airport check-in

You probably tend to have the same airport experience that I do. You’re stressed, crowded and stuck in security behind a ninny whose bag is full of prohibited liquids and loose iPads. Airports are hell. Except on Instagram. Some Instagrammers apparently float directly into a first-class lounge, where they’re handed a glass of fizz and placed in front of the most beautiful sunset ever seen. And, boy, do they want you to know about it.

The golden-hour shot

Nothing says ‘I take my photography seriously’ like a golden-hour Instagrammer; the person who waits until the sun is in exactly the right spot – just after sunrise or before sunset, when everything shimmers and the shadows are just long enough – before taking their photos. Meanwhile, the rest of us struggle to take a family photo where everyone is looking at the camera and nobody is strangling anyone else.

The right-on baby

There’s little quite so boasty as a parent who uses their baby as a tool for their own ideas. If I see a photo of a baby in a football top – a baby who doesn’t even know what a ball is, let alone the complexities of local derbies – then I’m angry. Same with feminism. I don’t want to see your baby in a ‘strong girls club’ T-shirt surrounded by the works of Simone de Beauvoir. Let them be babies, for god’s sake, and introduce all that stuff later.

The must-read books

Sure, you like to read. But you also have a life to lead, a job to do, a spouse to intermittently acknowledge. As such, it’s hard to escape the feeling that you aren’t reading enough. Then along comes the book Instagrammer, with their towering piles of all the hot new releases. ‘Here’s what I’ve read this week’, they’ll write as you gaze at the tattered copy of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends that you’ve spent the past 18 months grinding through. One day you’ll be like them. One day.