A growing ecosystem of Instagram accounts has embraced this text-heavy posting style, which has exploded in popularity among Gen Z users during the pandemic. The trend has transformed Instagram, the photo- and video-based app owned by Facebook, into a network of microblogs and a destination for written expression.
Many of these Instagram accounts, with absurdist names like @ripclairo, @botoxqueen.1968 and @carti_xcx, may look haphazard to the casual observer. Yet there are similarities across accounts. Nearly all feature screenshots of text on top of photos, made using the anonymous confessions app Whisper, or Instagram’s “Create” mode, which lets people design text posts on top of gradient backgrounds. The posts are also interspersed with uncredited images, viral videos and humorous content.
“You just post your thoughts,” said Mia Morongell, 20, a creator of the @lifes.a.bender Instagram account, which has amassed over 134,000 followers. “It’s like Twitter, but for Instagram. It’s like a blog where you’re airing personal thoughts and feelings.”
For years, Twitter served this very purpose, with the most engaging tweets repackaged and reposted by meme accounts and influencers on Instagram. Twitter, recognizing this shift, started its own Instagram account in 2017 and has made it easier for users to easily share tweets as Instagram Stories.
But Twitter posts have a 280-character limit. And for Gen Z users, the combination of text, tools like the Whisper app and Instagram Create mode have mixed together into a viral alchemy that resonates with their age group.