The Internet can be a strange place, but it always felt that the mind-bending obscurity and randomness of the human consciousness was reserved for Tumblr and other meme repositories. It seems, however, that Instagram is no longer immune.
As picked up by The Atlantic and The Guardian recently, there has been a surge in the number of Instagram accounts that are dedicated to posting identical images every single day. Some are dedicated to minor celebrities, while others are focused on gherkins, plungers, or what's particularly popular, a toaster.
If you ever become jaded about what it takes to build a solid following on Instagram, it might be best not to dwell for too long on the fact that a teenager has posted the same picture of a cartoon cow every day for the last year and now has more than 30,000 followers. No, he doesn't use hashtags. He barely uses captions.
The other emergent trend, as reported by Eater New York, is for restaurant chains to publish bizarre, often sexualized imagery that, for the most part, has little or nothing to do with their food, albeit with a healthy dose of absurdity. Images are often an art director's gentle nightmares, bordering on nonsensical, but providing talking points and fodder for sharing. This isn't simply an overt attempt at creating something viral, but strikes me instead as a hipster/corporate mode of tapping into the meme culture that dominates certain corners of the Internet.
Brands' reliance on social media is massive, and having a vast library of content to draw upon is time-consuming and potentially mundane. How many pictures of your restaurant can you post before you run out? Instead, you can unleash the dark mind of a recently graduated art student and give them the creative freedom to produce content where the only brief is "please be weird, and maybe a bit sexy."
Lead image by Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash.