Be Your Best Self, With or Without Filters, and Make Instagram Your New Favorite Dating App

Here’s a crazy thing to think about: young people today were given zero tools to build meaningful relationships with each other in digital spaces. For generations before us, meeting people was pretty much the same. Step one: be in a place! Step two: talk to a person who is also in that place! Can you imagine this? Terrifying.

If you feel wildly confused about how to be your best self or meet people online, take a deep breath and remember that you are bravely living alongside the first group of humans who have ever had to deal with this completely new digital social landscape. Not only that, but you’re queer, and that makes the process of meeting someone via the Internet statistically harder! We’re all playing fast and loose and confused in this world, and you know what? You’re doing great, champ.

I’ve sort of figured out how to use all the anxiety-inducing dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid. It is, however, depressing to know that I have eighteen hundred Tinder matches and have found only two long-term partners through the app. Even with those, I’m pretty sure we would have met anyway given our social circles. I’ve found Tinder to be most useful if I wake up in a new city with no friends and want to have plans by the end of the night. The dates end up being fun and casual, and by that I mean the dates are mainly sexual and someone will ghost the other person afterwards!

I’ve made friends through OkCupid, but I haven’t found any romantic partners using it. OkCupid is slower than Tinder. I’ll plan a date on Monday for Friday night, and we’ll have dinner before we go dancing. There’s probably a piece in here about how these apps create a kind of psychological categorization. We all have agreed that Tinder is for sex, so that’s what we use it for. OkCupid is for getting to know someone, which can lead to either romantic relationships or genuine friendships.

The most success I’ve had in the world of online dating is actually through Instagram, the best unintentional dating app (especially for queer people). First of all, there’s a pretty big group of people who have deleted Tinder and OkCupid out of frustration but are still single and interested in starting a relationship. You know where these people are? Instagram. And unlike dating apps, which are loaded with expectations, the process of expressing interest in someone through Instagram is pretty simple. In fact, it’s the virtual equivalent of seeing someone in public space and saying, “Hey, you look familiar.”

Also, with Instagram you can search for photos based on places, so you can find someone who frequents the same coffee shops, bookstores and bars as you do. And when you find someone who you’d like to get to know IRL, you can simply like their photo — which, on the Internet scale of creepy things you could possibly do, is pretty harmless. Maybe they’ll like one of your photos, too. Then maybe you’ll play the photo-liking game for a week before you follow them and they follow you back. Soon you’ll be clear for creepy-free direct messaging, and the rest is a romantic tale told by your future child: “Mom met Mommy by sliding into the DMs.”

The best advantage of using Instagram as a queer dating app is that it gives you the opportunity to be your most authentic — or maybe most aspirational — self on there, and to find other people near you who appreciate it. It’s not easy to figure out your identity and find your niche. A year ago, I was in a rocky and tumultuous period of confusion as a soft butch gay-by. My social media strategy was to place myself in the presence of interesting scenery, where I felt it was okay to be self-indulgent enough to ask for a photo. Also, I didn’t like my face, so I usually found a way to hide it (here, I peel an orange).


Today I accept and embody that truly, I’m a glitter witch femme. This is a very specific brand, but it’s that level of specificity that lets other queer femmes know pretty instantly that I’m also a queer femme, which makes it easier to start conversations that could lead to relationships. Now, I’m living my best brand in photo shoots that I organize with other queer friends who also get my brand – and we’re releasing a zine together!


The magical thing is that when I digitally connect with the people I’ve been looking for, I am one hundred percent certain that they are the best people I could meet (out of all the possible people in the world). This is an amazing feeling. Figuring out how to use digital spaces is as powerful as living your best queer life, with certainty.

You can master this complicated digital world and find people to live your best life with. Is it hard? Is it an oddly specific process? Will you feel creepy or like you’re trying too hard sometimes, even though you’re just playing by entirely new social rules that everyone’s had only a few years to figure out? Yes! But is it worth it? For sure.

Here are some tips for living as your best online self:

  • You have to get past the idea that caring about your social media presence makes you selfish or shallow. This idea was created by the generation before us and popularized in a million millennial thinkpieces. Ugh, get off my lawn (newsfeed).
  • Don’t know your brand/style/niche/identity/special thing? That’s okay. A good way to figure out your brand is to ask: what is something that you enjoy doing in your daily life that you would enjoy doing more with someone else who also enjoyed doing that thing? For me, this includes eating colorful donuts, appreciating glitter, and reading Tarot cards. Posting pictures of these activities turned my brand into “donut-eating witchy glitter femme,” which is what I was aiming for. But if your brand turns out to be “dog-walking hiking beer-drinking tattoo’d gentle butch,” that’s okay too.
  • Invest some time in purging your Instagram of photos that don’t reflect your chosen niche/new you. Screenshot photos, save them to your computer, and then delete them from Instagram. Here are three photos I deleted out of the five hundred from my purge:

The only brand this works for is: I recently graduated high school, how does that make you feel?

I think the caption for this one was “Soy milk is not a mixer.” Gross life hack, baby me.

Was it a mistake to delete this one y/n?

When you think about new content to post, it’s okay to post things that make it seem like you’re already living your best queer life. This is controversial, but I think that making your life seem interesting on social media can be positive depending on the intention that you have behind it. There’s this idea that people only use social media to hide behind an image or to lie about their lives. My goal with rebranding my self and my life on social media was to attract people who might relate to the way that I see the world.


This was the first photo I posted from my social media reboot last summer. It’s a good case study in how others respond when you live your best brand. We have the Stef Schwartz of No Filter fame acknowledging my new photo for its “Homer Simpson shit” level of authenticity, Abby noting what in emoji-speak I think translates to “bullseye with this color palette,” and a really hot queer from Berlin straight-up commenting, for everyone else to see, “let’s hang out.” Observe: these are just donuts!

In a way, there’s a fake it ‘til you make it aspect at play here that I didn’t know would happen when I chose to be more considerate of my image on social media. The braver I was in posting pictures of my (seemingly) interesting life, the more courageous I became in actually living that version of my life. I even started to believe I was the person that I looked like online. Turns out: I wasn’t lying! I am that person! At some point while I was making out with another glitter witch femme, I realized that my life was how it appeared on social media, and how I hoped it would be.

I think how we interact as queer people on social media is tangled up with how we relate to authenticity. We’ve all been forced to be an inauthentic version of ourselves at some point in our lives. Once we finally figure out who we are and pursue that entirely, we become skeptical of anything that fragments the new identity that we’ve worked hard to earn. Instagram can feel like at threat to that identity. It can feel like it asks us to fragment ourselves. But if you’re in the process of figuring out who you are, if you know who you want to be but you aren’t sure how to get there, social media can be a really empowering tool. Social media can be a positive challenge that helps us figure out how we hope to be seen, and help us make that a reality.

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Cecelia is a playwright and student living in Houston. She is most passionate about writing and watching the honest queer experience in film, television or theatre. She also finds herself to be very moved emotionally by zines, squirrels and emojis. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @zo0mbini.

Cecelia has written 24 articles for us.


  1. Nothing thus far in my life has made me feel as old and not with it as the power of Instagram. This is timely because my 19 year old brother met his girlfriend and a bunch of his friends on Instagram, and he maintains several thousand followers. It completely blows my mind, and I absolutely shamed him for it. I guess it must be how people felt when online dating, like okcupid and Tinder, became super mainstream.

    • Same and I’m only 22? Like is there a guide to getting started? Who to follow? How?

      What’s the difference between instagram and flipping through someones photos on facebook? I want to know the nuances.

      • Exactly. I’m 23. I can’t be this behind! My brother maintains a public Instagram in which he carefully curates the photos that appear–that’s the account that has tons and tons and tons of followers. And then he has an account that’s private and the photos are just normal ones without special editing or posing or anything. It’s so confusing. I feel like I don’t have that much creativity or energy.

      • I’m almost 23 and equally clueless about Instagram. Probably because I don’t have a smartphone so I can’t get one anyway…but I feel like I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Like you said, who to follow?? How to think of witty captions? How much time per day do you have to spend checking your Instagram?

        • Yes! I’m 24 and I just don’t get instagram. I had it for a while because I was dating a girl who was super into instragram, but it’s just not very interesting? And I totally think part of it is internalized misogyny on my part for being so uncomfortable with that level of effort around aesthetic presentation, but mostly maybe I’m just old haha.

      • I would start by following fellow autostraddlers/the autostraddle writers and contributors!

      • Some places to start: the “Explore” section of Instagram (the collection of photos displayed in the same tab as the Search function) and the “Following” tab (when you click the icon that shows you notifications, it is automatically showing “You” but you can also click near the top on “Following” and see what people you’re following like)

        So the Explore tab is a curated selection of photos specifically for you, and it’s a mix of Instagram famous people (but not celebrities, like people who are famous because of things you might like. I see a lot of other Glitter Femmes in my Explore tab and I’m like: how does this algorithm know?) and then there are also photos from people who you may not know, but who may know your friends/followers.

        Then the “Following” tab shows you what the people you’re following like and comment on.

        This is where I started. It’s a fun wormhole to go down. I will also see someone who I think is interesting and look at who they’re following!

  2. I totally just followed you on instagram after reading the words “glitter witch femme.”

    • omg! thank u. “glitter witch femme” is a real thing that’s happening right now for many people, and I know it only has like a year of trendy left maximum, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

  3. I’m pretty sure that I’m too old to play the instagram dating game… Not that I appreciate the okcupid or tinder choices, by and large.

    Can’t we just go back to meeting people in real life??

    • I gave someone my number at the caucus on Tuesday. So I think this is still a real thing.

      • …that may be the most patriotic/fantastic thing I’ve heard all week (insert fifty flag emoji, a bald eagle, and fireworks here)

        • We’re texting and making coffee plans! We both ended up being more involved than we had originally planned. When our eyes met across the rabblers, as they were suggesting to queer up the platform, I knew I had to see them again.

  4. Followed! I like instagram more than any other social network because for me anyway twitter = anxiety chamber fb = showing off to yr aunt pinterest = just about the pix, not actually social tumblr = same; instagram is a quasi-goldilockslike blend of pure aesthetics, the sensuousness of everyday moments and places, and voyeurism on the actual lives of people you know and don’t know. Imo the best internet spaces are a mix of irl friends and total internet strangers, it’s fresher that way, fb is like a flat where the windows have been closed all winter and it smells like every meal you’ve made since October (maybe that’s just my flat) (it totally isn’t I open my windows all the time because I like fresh air so much I’ll put on another jumper for it, also we’ve had such a mild winter here in the UK, it’s nuts, climate change is already happening, who will save us, we have to save ourselves like I hear they do in Frozen? but I haven’t yet watched that particular cultural artefact even though it must be so important as a part of the collective psyche of the Next Generation, what are those kids going to be like? I hope they are better than us, I hope they will be revolutionaries)

    • “instagram is a quasi-goldilockslike blend of pure aesthetics, the sensuousness of everyday moments and places, and voyeurism on the actual lives of people you know and don’t know.”

      this is exactly how i feel about instagram! it’s like looking through a beautiful magazine that you curated yourself, with nothing ugly or upsetting or sad. it’s just so pretty and calming.

    • yes! exactly this! I love imagining social media sites as physical spaces. Facebook is definitely like your home town, where you run into your old elementary school teacher and ex-partner when you’re just trying to grocery shop & not make small talk. Instagram is like a vacation, going somewhere new, seeing all of the potential people in the world you could meet & what they love.

  5. Wow, I mostly only follow people I already know or celebrities on instagram but I’m now v inspired to up my instagram game and start thirst following random queers in my city

  6. This is all so rad and validating and makes me want to delete a bunch of old photos….

    Also I recently met someone from/off instagram and it was fun! Did you know you can send people messages via instagram? They saw I was visiting their town and was like “hey here’s what to do/where to go” and we met up and became pals!

    Alsoooo this article is making me wonder what my brand is? So thanks!

  7. I am never, ever voluntarily choosing a “brand” for myself or thinking of my person as brand. Never in a million years. But I will totally post things that make my life look more interesting than it is, if I ever get instagram. ^^

  8. I didn’t want your first comment to be a barrage of negativity (when I first read this there were no comments) so I held off and thought about it for a while. Now I’m back, and my feelings haven’t really changed…this sort of thing drives me batty.

    Look, constructed identities are totally fascinating. It’s a really interesting artistic endeavour, building a story for yourself that also encompasses your look, your interests, your social circles, and so on. One of my favorite historical figures, Adah Issacs Menken, is known for this. Lady Gaga is an obvious one. Beyonce had Sasha Fierce, whom she now kinda absorbed. Burlesque dancers and drag performers have this. Hell, so do I, look at my display name. And I am the last person to complain about people being on social media all the time, given that I’ve been living on the Internet since I was about 8 or 9.

    But I resent this phenomenon in queer spaces where the only people who get dates, who get attention, who get opportunities, who get MONEY, are people who have constructed personal brands and embody them constantly. Like, it’s not enough to just be queer, it’s not even enough to spend a lot of time supporting queer community and doing the work. If you don’t look like enough of a personal brand, if you don’t look cool and have a cute tagline, you’re boring and ignored.

    I’ve been excluded and ignored from queer space – including and especially queer femme spaces – because I looked too “boring” and not like some kind of Adjective Metaphor Femme. I’ve given years of emotional and intellectual and physical and financial labour to support other queermos, and for my trouble I just get people questioning my queer cred because I don’t look the part (not that it helps when I do, because apparently brownness can’t be queer or something). And none of this Personal Brand queers are of ANY help to me now that I’m stuck in a homophobic country trying to get out before I’m done for.

    I’ve had personal brands before – multiple iterations. Alternative education activist, social entrepreneur wannabe, rabbling-rousing anti-racist burlesquer. Sure, people were interested, and gave me access to certain things and people because of this construct, but the moment I decided to step away from the construct for whatever reason, they abandoned me. Suddenly I wasn’t interesting anymore, wasn’t worth helping anymore, even though I still am who I am.

    The people who stuck around? These are people who knew me for ME, who were ok with whatever constructed or unconstructed identity I decided to adopt for myself, who didn’t hold me to one personal brand or another because they’re well aware that I am more than that.

    I haven’t really had any dates because of some “personal brand”. I sorta had one hookup, but she then turned out to be a douchebag. I’ve been told that people find me too “intimidating” to approach for dates because of this performance-artist-activist persona I had for a while, and meanwhile I’m lonely. Getting a date based on a cute constructed identity is fun, but for dates to last they’ll need to know who I am beyond the identity – not that the personal brand is somehow fake, but that there’s more to me than that. And that’s not who you attract or find when you have a highly curated and constructed social media profile and you’re hoping to have that be what draws people in.

    This whole personal-brand shenanigans is why just about every blog post now is some kind of advice or inspirational statement or something. Like, you’re somehow not allowed to be messy or try things out or experiment or be inconsistent. You must follow your Personal Brand! Which means you must Constantly Know, you can’t ever express doubt or uncertainty, you can’t just try something for the sake of trying something, it has to be meaningful somehow. Same thing with images – everything must be art. You can’t have a bad photo. If it doesn’t fit your “personal brand”, take it down.

    Fuck that noise. Post what you want. Construct or deconstruct however you wish. Personal brands shouldn’t be our metric for judging someone’s attractiveness or queer cred. Look beyond those who are able or willing or wanting to project big personalities, and just let queermos be queermos, constructed identity or not.

    • Thank you for posting this, so much, actually, because I think this is the perfect counter to what I’ve posted here. And in a lot of ways, I completely agree with you.

      My brand isn’t me. And I’ve met a lot of people in online spaces who think they get me because of what I’m posting, and then in real life we don’t get along at all, so they aren’t in my life. And I only committed more to my brand because I was pressured exactly by the same feeling of being invisible as a femme before. Building my brand was one of my queer strategies for thriving, because I recognized that it’s a way people are learning to live in this world now. I curate this image with a self-awareness that it’s a very specific version of me, but could never entirely be me. I think it’s really fucked up that people are discouraged from being openly complicated, fragmented, and messy. We are all those things! Personal brands are definitely a lie if you think it doesn’t make you those things! I made the choice to give the world what it wanted – an uncomplicated version of myself. But even if the way I meet people is because of this version of myself, there’s no way I could sustain a true and valuable relationship on image or persona alone. The relationships I form on the Internet are, like every relationship and unlike my Instagram page, nuanced and complicated and messy.

      • Thanks for being gracious with your reply!

        Personal brands as a means of survival or thriving is a new concept to me, though it shouldn’t be surprising – it’s what a lot of people (myself included) have stage names for. And hey, any strategy to thrive is good if it truly helps you. Sometimes I’ve fantasized about creating a persona that’s not even really “me” but closer to a fictional character, living her life online, just to see what that’s like (since my online presence otherwise tends to be very heart-on-sleeve even when working as my burlesque persona or whatever).

        I just wish that it wasn’t a near-exclusive means of getting social capital, especially amongst queermos. And it’s hard for me to evaluate whether posts like yours are either reflective of the status quo (how to “play the game”) or if they just reinforce it further.

    • You’ve articulated what was bothering me about this essay as I read it (along with making lots of other important points that are way bigger).

      I feel profoundly uncomfortable and disturbed about the idea of ‘branding’ oneself.

      I very very much appreciate how your comment picks up and questions the complex and weird interplay between fantasy and reality that’s running through the essay. Especially since you aren’t rubbishing that or invalidating it–but complicating it, grounding it.

      • Thank you! Yes, I appreciate fantasy and fucking with reality, I just get bothered when it ends up being a method of exclusion in spaces where that’s not really necessary.

    • I really feel what you’re saying here. But (and maybe I’m misunderstanding you), I certainly don’t think this is a phenomenon unique to queer spaces. It’s more that this is how our society at large operates these days, and it’s bleeding over into queer space. And while I wish that queer space was actually radical enough to be separate from this phenomenon, it just isn’t the case.

      And I think there’s starting to be kick back about the need for perfection within a personal brand… Hell, Autostraddle is a great example of a brand that is very transparent about experimentation, flaws, and failures.

      • I’m not saying that it’s exclusive to queer spaces by any means – like you, I’m dismayed that queer spaces are buying into this, and while they have the radical power of not playing the same game, they’re instead expending energy reinforcing the game’s rules.

  9. What you’re saying about curating your social media experiences is taking me a minute to wrap my head around, and I love it! I admit I’ve definitely struggled with the niggling feeling of duplicity when posting, and/or feeling like I’m promoting an “artificial” version of my life, but I like this idea of viewing it more as a goal or “vision board,” instead!

  10. glitter witch femme is my new favorite thing. upon hearing the term I immediately knew that I, too, was a glitter witch femme! love having the vocabulary to describe myself, haha.

  11. This whole post actually made me rethink tackling my depression by “constructing” the life I want. I mean, to get the pictures I’d actually have to get out and do stuff. Which would mean I was actually building a real outside life with interesting things in it. What a neat way of looking at the whole instagram concept.

    • Just don’t get stuck on the image stuff! I think that can be pretty damn harmful if you’re battling depression. Or actually in general.

  12. I don’t use Instagram(you see in the open threads kind f why), but this has me intrigued. I’ve tried OKC and Tinder, but so far only Tinder has worked once(made a friend with a fellow queer). In fact OKC at one point banned me for not being trendy/what they are looking for(this was in the old and dark days when genderqueer and trans wasn’t an option). Still OKC hasn’t work for me. Tumblr on the other hand, I’ve made a few friends in other parts of the world because of it.

  13. My instagram description lets people know that they’ll only be seeing cats, food, and my face, and I post all three frequently and without shame.

    I’m at a loss for how you meet people via instagram, though. Is it just excessive tagging? I’ve found some people cool people with cat accounts through the #catsofdenton tag, but I still don’t want to add a dozen tags to every one of my photo descriptions.

    • Yeah, the tags thing feels awkward to me. I used them to some extent when I first started on ig, but I’ve pretty much totally quit. Tho my account is private and limited to folks I know offline, for the most part, so tags are pretty irrelevant.

  14. I am interested in trying this out, seeing if it would work as a way to have fun and build up confidence to approach people (if I’m interested in you I probably barely speak to you or spent HOURS trying to come up with a convincing flimsy question to ask to garner your attention then quickly flee)


    Also have anxiety about strangers having public access to photos of me/my face/location? I know it’s probably a holdover from early internet when older people told me shadowy figures would leap out of the night and kidnap me or pass my face around in some gross sexual objectification ring (sounds silly but I knew someone who admitted to doing this with photos of women found on the Internet.) I know it probably wouldn’t actually impact my life at all except for some trolls to ignore and positively/neutrally otherwise, but I can’t seem to solve how to move past the what-if roadblock.

  15. That last paragraph is #truth. I relate to it 100%. I feel like I went through two years of trying on multiple different brands, as you say (I would probably use the word “identities” though I think they are more or less the same in this respect) and only recently have felt comfortable exploring all aspects of that identity (genderqueer, soft butch, bisexual)…I used to think wearing lipstick would be a threat to my identity and only when I felt comfortable with my identity did I feel like I could do, say, look like anything, and my identity would remain the same. So, in relation to instagram, one picture that doesn’t encompass you as a WHOLE feels scary because it feels like you’re straying away from your identity, your brand. But your identity/brand is really just the cumulation of all those things about you — those moments, styles, images. Not sure if this makes any sense!

  16. I’m glad this works for somebody, but it makes me feel old and lonely. What makes me feel less lonely is going out to places where the volume is low enough to introduce myself to people (and working up the nerve to do so!), and going out and doing queer volunteering/book clubs/sports, etc. I can’t even handle OK Cupid or Tinder for sheer loneliness to results ratio. So anyway, everybody do what works for them and keep on keepin’ on.

    • Agreed full heartedly. There is nothing like actually meeting people face to face, actually talking on the phone. I’m the first year of the millennial generation and I have this to say: shit changes as you get older. It’s not about older generations not understanding, it’s about real life responsibilities. Who in the world has time for this?

      • If you’re isolated and don’t have real-world community this can be really useful for you to find connections.

        Also I find that the Internet has been way more helpful for me to find real-world connections, because then I know where people are and what’s going on.

  17. I’ve used Tinder and OkCupid, and they seem mostly okay. I’m just wary of having my picture out too much in too many places (stalker concerns :-/ ).

    Anyway, I really like your picture with the dog and the donut picture. Definitely keep those!

  18. As the owner of a meticulously cultivated “art” blog and an equally meticulous yet “personal” side blog (both on tumblr), this was an interesting article to read.
    The kind of persona building you’ve done with your instagram is a lot like what I use my art blog for, even though instead of pictures of myself and my interests it’s pictures of my own artwork and artwork that I enjoy and want to share with my followers.
    Originally my main blog was personal but the more followers I got, the more I wanted to use it as semi-professional place to show off my artwork and (hopefully) get commissions and fans. So I created a sideblog where people who wanted to hear my daily voice and see the sillier things I enjoy could interact with me.
    The catch? It’s ended up incredibly difficult for me to maintain my cool artist persona because 1) I am not a cool artist, I am a huge dork and actually the lofty fine arts students I went to school with still haunt my dreams because of how annoying I found them (but it’s cool, we were young, we all wanted cred and that’s one way of getting it at art school) and 2) where do you draw the line? Between the persona and the personal. One feeds the other, right? What exactly is the value of what we cut away?
    It was super interesting for me to see those photos you tossed because I’m always making posts and then editing them, like, double guessing which blog what should go on, what message I want to send to my followers, whether it will negatively impact my follower count. It’s pretty exhausting!
    I don’t really have a definite conclusion here. Your instagram looks super cute. We all edit ourselves, I think, and I love that the internet lets people who are super into the thing you’re super into connect. What I wrote sounded like I have a hard time maintaining my blogs but overall, I just want to show people, “hey, look at this thing I made!” or remind them how much of a boss John Singer Sargent was.
    Also, I’m probably going to set up an instagram later.

    • “where do you draw the line? Between the persona and the personal. One feeds the other, right? What exactly is the value of what we cut away?”

      these are some great questions!

  19. You that mean all this time, when total strangers like or follow my stuff, they might have actually been thirsty fellow queers and not just spambots or creepily trying to monetize follower numbers?

  20. This is such a great, timely article for me!

    I was just explaining to someone recently how IG is great for meeting people and/or dating.

    I use IG to find queer/trans community in Seattle. All. The. Time.

    I’ve made several friends that way, long distance and otherwise, mostly by following accounts that are trans focused but collaborative where anyone can DM in a pic to be featured. Then I comment and be like oh hey! You live in my city, I live in my city. Let’s be friends in our city.

    Also just binge reading hashtags and thirst-following cuties. You know.

  21. I want to do the whole personal brand thing on websites like Instagram but I’m way too terrified to do so. I dislike the idea of my face on the internet, and associate the idea with potential harassment.

  22. My instagram’s brand used to be “where is she? is she by herself? is she safe?” dubbed by my concerned aunt who I see once a year but we follow each other on Instagram.

    It became a joke with all my friends because it really was just a bleak, sometimes urban/sometimes in the woods aesthetic that I like.

    Now I have a girlfriend and it’s mostly pictures of her in these spaces I like to occupy and my aesthetic has been killed.

  23. I had no idea people were using Instagram to meet other people. That is not an intuitive use of that media to me AT ALL. But 45% of my instagram is cats (mostly mine, but some of my friends’), 45% is whitewater-related (either photos of kayaking or my hiking and scouting local potential first descents), 5% is my dog, and 5% are miscellaneous other things including sunsets and selfies.

    On one hand, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about me. On the other hand, I’m not sure how anyone other than my friends have found me and think what I’m posting is interesting.

  24. this post added to my insta inadequacy but did make me wonder, cecelia, if you’d be my instamentor.

  25. This seems like it would demand a lot of time, and mostly put me around women in their twenties. I’m 34, I work full time and I’m in school. Love it in theory.

  26. im lowkey offended that i wasn’t noted as the “really hot queer in Michigan” before the Berlin queer got there but i love this love this article love you and your color palette yes

  27. Tinder won’t let me join because it’s confused by my gender settings on FB

    However I appreciate this go ahead to delete online evidence of this past summers regrettable “I’m unemployed and lacking in direction” decision to try & be more femme

    It was fun for like a day but then became v stressful and also eyebrows R difficult why can’t we just let them grow in peace

    I stand by my decision to make a “world’s greatest dad” crop top tho

    10/10 I’d do it again

    • “Tinder won’t let me join because it’s confused by my gender settings on FB”

      I didn’t know that was an issue. Ugh.

  28. Also thanku for reminding me that my regrettable “Maybe I’m secretly femme” phase is still up on okcupid for the world to see

    I hate logging into okstupid tho

    I’ll have like two messages that I don’t want to read and a general sense of disappointment awaiting me

    I usually just use it to chat up strangers on other continents because the distance communicates my emotional unavailability better than saying “hey I don’t like eye contact or having human feelings” does

  29. Ok first, a question: a cute queer I sort of know because we briefly worked together found and followed me on IG awhile ago. Can I friend them on FB? What are the boundaries here?

    Second, I am utterly fascinated by everything to do with social media and to read one about how it intersects with queerness was FANTASTIC. I have pretty much every major social media platform and a love/hate relationships with most of it except Instagram. I love taking and sharing pictures and I love how it has allowed me to break down my shame around celebrating myself and my life. Selfies forever! Yes I look good and feel good and it makes me happy! Also, the part about living your way into your identity through constructed moments- I never thought about it this way but this is kind of what I’m doing. I have friends and people I follow whose lives I see and admire on places like Instagram and I thought to myself, I want a life surrounded by queers and having adventures. And lo and behold. I’m also here for the critiques too, and the discomfort with seeing myself as a brand or commodity, because I’m a work in progress and super messy. But I embrace that on social media and so maybe that’s my brand in some weird way.

    Anyway, great piece. More of this please!

  30. This is so interesting! It ties in really well with a lot of what I’ve been thinking about social media lately.

    For the 10-ish years that I’ve been on social media, I’ve always kind of downplayed it or dismissed it; but lately I’ve been wondering if it could actually be a powerful first step in creating a more integrated and authentic life. What if I used it to speak up, take the space I deserve, create connection and practice communication, and actively bring together parts of my life that I currently work to keep separate? I think maybe it could go a long way in dismantling a lot of the shame I’ve internalized. And while I wouldn’t want to create a “brand” of myself, it makes sense to me that experimenting with what you put out into the world might provide valuable feedback about who you think you are vs how others see you.

  31. My IG is 90% my cats and 10% crafting. How do I hashtag to find queers in my area who will appreciate my boys?

  32. That final paragraph on fragmentation and authenticity is something I’m going to be sitting with and thinking over for a long time, thank you.

  33. I don’t enjoy social media or taking pictures of myself frequently, it’s just work to me and I don’t have a great sense of composition, so it takes a long time to get a good photo. This does kind of make me feel like I don’t have access to other queers my age, even though probably gays similar to me probably won’t be on there anyway 😕. Hopefully there are still some on the apps huh…

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