Antisocial network: how self-deprecation is taking over the internet

It used to be Instagram posts of glamorous parties and beach selfies. Now its Netflix and boasting about your chilled weekend

Social media is often called out as an outlet for boasting. Or its spin-off, the #humblebrag. We hear all the time about how the pressure to keep up with the shiny, happy people we watch on Facebook is making our mental health suffer.

It can seem that everyone elses existence is all #marbs, postcoital selfies, and smug invitation acceptances. Except for my Instagram feed, which is literally only pictures of Hampstead Heath.

That very kind of self-deprecation, however, is becoming a thing. A popular internet trope is now the antisocial individual, the homebody, the push back from scenesters. Its now all about revelling in singledom, jokes about therapy sessions, the terror of being an adult or putting it out there that reaching a club can actually be pretty hellish. And slumming it on the sofa? Heaven.

The most popular memes on witticism and pop-culture-based Instagram and Twitter accounts such as The Fat Jewish and Girl With No Job et al? Paintings of cats chilling on couches, confessions of a sub-par life and vignettes of people carrying a( kind of) joking dislike for other people. Or as one poster sets it: God bless Uber drivers that dont attempt small talk.

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A picture of a cat meme on missing out Photo: Instagram/ The Fat Jewish /@ friend_of_bae

Claudia Oshry, who runs the hugely popular Girl With No Job Instagram account( 2 million followers ), which consists of collated memes and tweets, tells me that self-deprecating posts are the most popular because we like to feel that were not alone in not living the perfect life.

Everyone is astonished to realise that other people feel the same way about staying in and watching Netflix. Most people wouldnt admit out loud that theyd prefer to binge watch TV and eat pizza instead of going out to the fanciest dinner or club. Its nice to know youre not the only one.

When Caterina Fake popularised the idea of( FOMO) or the fear of missing out, she wrote that the internet itself exacerbated this anxiety, and Im sure she is right. But, in a world of constantly switched-on, ostentatious showings of popularity and people having an ostensibly TOTALLY AWESOME TIME, perhaps it isnt surprising that things would start to pitch in the opposite direction( known as JOMO, elation of missing out ).

Look at the popularity of down-to-earth celebs such as Jennifer Lawrence, who ordered a McDonalds from the Oscars red carpet. Or Alessia Caras single Here.

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Girl With No Job has two million adherents. Who cant relate to this feeling? Photo: Instagram @girlwithnojob

Also: become increasingly comfortable with being a bit rubbish, or as the Twitter account with 350,000 followers( and now book) has it: So Sad Today. The Nailed It meme is a perfect instance of this. Life isnt Goop. Real life is not Photoshopped, and life hacks almost never work.

The Expectation v Reality memes continue this theme a visual representation of what psychologists call the incongruence gap. In short: this celeb with perfectly coiffed hair versus your matted tangled beehive when you try to copy it.

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An example of the hugely popular Expectation v Reality memes Photograph: Buzzfeed

Theres the sense that, and perhaps its even stronger among millennials, were all somewhat inadequate as adults. Were awful at cooking, we dont understand pensions, and we just wanna be left alone to watch marathons of Broad City. When we realise, as Oshry says, that other people feel this way too, we feel better.

Maggy van Eijk, the social media editor of Buzzfeed UK agrees. She explains how the process there works 😛 TAGEND

We have a group of photoshop wizards and illustrators called the distribution squad and we all make one-off memes, jokes,[ and] illustrations that the project works as standalone pieces for Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. The best of them and most viral are the self-deprecating.

I think this is because it makes people either go this is so me or they tag their best friend and run this is so you or best-case scenario they say this is so us and tag a bunch of their friends so it gets shared more widely.

Van Eijk tells me top topics are being shit at make-up, loving puppies more than humans, eating pizza , not showering or exert, and not going to the gym.

One of our most recent comics that really ran wild had to do with shaving your legs for summer and how that really merely means you shave your ankles because you cant be bothered with the rest, and I thought that was so telling. Its unlikely youre going to write a Facebook status that says: HEY GUYS Im merely shaving my ankles because this is what I feel is the norm and the rest of me is fucking hairy get over it but by sharing the comic they are in a position conceal behind the meme while also making a bit of statement.

The British have always been quite good at this dry sense of humour( just look at the success, for instance, of lavatory books like Crap Towns) but its perhaps surprising to watch the take up in America. Or perhaps it is just that with millennials being screwed in the job and housing marketplaces, we cant do much but laugh instead of yell online.

Even social media superstars such Essena ONeill have revealed that their perfect online presence is just a ruse. Oshry said today the glamorous party photo pics are still popular too( the internet has enough room for all types of content ). And psychotherapist and novelist Philippa Perry cautions that these posts becoming more and more popular might just be a knock-on effect of people trying to cash in on the likes. Perry tells me 😛 TAGEND

People find[ it] brave and attractive so more people experiment with being real but I cynically suggest that perhaps rather than being real its only that this type of self-depreciation has been proven to be attractive so its becoming more popular.

This also harvests up when I speak to the inventor behind the @friend_of_bae account, who mentions that these type of dgaf posts have indeed become trendy.

But Perry also says that she recently posted a image with four unwashed mugs to show how not great I am at work, which is comforting to those of us with three empty Coke cans on their desk.

Even if some posts are a facade or it is all a backlash to Rich Kids of Instagram that its cool to be uncool one thing is for sure, being more and more OK with the fact were all socially anxious animals, vying for who has the most banal life and poorest life abilities is likely a damn sight more healthy( and easier) than “re just trying to” out-glam each other or #eat the #cleanest.

I proclaim our new love of self-deprecation to be a positive thing. Now excuse me while I brush the Doritos crumbs off my shirt, and go hang out on Hampstead Heath because I have been invited to precisely zero parties.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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