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Gen Y Speaks: I thought IG was superficial. Now I am a convert

I always thought that using Instagram or IG would mean succumbing to the lure of mindless social media. After all, it seemed so superficial and mundane, with random shots of strangers’ meals, as well as haphazard selfies that share no new knowledge.

Gen Y Speaks: I thought IG was superficial. Now I am a convert

The author (pictured) says Instagram has opened up a new world of possibilities for her in the form of beauty-enhancing apps.

I always thought that using Instagram or IG would mean succumbing to the lure of mindless social media.

After all, it seemed so superficial and mundane, with random shots of strangers’ meals, as well as haphazard selfies that share no new knowledge.

That was why my IG account was left untouched for nearly a year since its creation in 2019. I had barely 300 IG followers, given my preference for Facebook where I had over 1,000 friends.

Never mind that my peers saw Facebook users as dinosaurs and viewed me as an outdated, untrendy oddball.

My attitude towards IG began to change at the start of the year.

While out with a friend, I came across short writings of poet Rupi Kaur on my friend’s IG feed.  

As an English literature fanatic, I was astonished to see how Rupi Kaur rose to fame online through avenues like IG where she shared her short visual poetry.  

The way she used the digital media to accomplish the challenging task of generating interest and passion for English poetry was particularly amazing to me, and challenged my assumption that IG was mainly for short and superficial posts. 

Her exploration of universal themes such as heartache, gender identity and solitude also drew IG users to read some of her later published books, such as “Milk and Honey” and “The Sun and Her Flowers”. 

Seeing my new-found wonder for the potential of IG, my friend remarked: “You need to be more in tune with social media and technology, and see what they can do.” 

In a matter of weeks, I began to explore IG as a newbie. It was not as easy as I had imagined. 

IG is not as intuitive as Facebook, and there seems to be just too many additional functions: Boomerangs, quizzes, polls and countdowns.  

I did not even know how to remove the date from my IG story which appeared in the story by default, and was clueless about how to include accompanying words for it. 

The result was an amateurish and slapdash IG story showing my selfie and the date of the post.  

It was embarrassing at first to be asking my friends how to do the simplest things on IG: Add a sticker, or repost someone else’s story that tagged me onto my IG story. 

Thankfully my friends were patient and found it rather hilarious to be guiding me on what they deemed to be basic IG skills. 

Instead of shying away from this platform, I patiently learnt to navigate IG over one month, to find out how to harness its benefits and potential for influence. 

On Aug 9, I was proud to try something I had never done before: An IG live with online influencer and model @Yagalterry, a pharmacist-turned-model from Australia who has modelled for various fashion brands in Singapore. 

I first followed her after her account was suggested to me on IG.

She had invited interested followers to message and join her on IG live for discussions, which I did in the spirit of adventure and fun. 

Although we never met face-to-face and first spoke with each other through IG live, we had in-depth discussions on issues such as beauty, wellness and growing up as children under the Asian parenting model.  

This “milestone” spurred me to continue exploring IG. Otherwise, I honestly would likely have decided to drop out from it because I was no big fan of its functions.

The author says apps have allowed her to try on different hairstyles, makeup, clothes and accessories for a small dose of glitz and glamour. Photos courtesy of Alvona Loh Zi Hui

As time passed, many of my friends were pleasantly surprised to see how I started to use IG much more than in the past, to understand latest trends such as the “bare face, no-makeup look”, Korean skincare routines and less common beauty styles such as Garden Brows and Tortoiseshell Makeup.

We often chat about which styles suit one another, and share perspectives of our favourite lifestyle trends and goals in a meaningful way through interactions on IG stories, such as quizzes and countdowns, sometimes replying directly to a particular story with a statement or emoji.

For example, I recently did a poll to gauge the aspirations of my friends for 2021. 

This spurred fulfilling discussions on our hopes for the future which were easily shared or reposted, and gave us plans to look forward to. 

On a more practical level, some of us also formed groups to achieve some of these goals related to travel, fitness and learning new skills.

IG also opened up a new world of possibilities for me in the form of beauty-enhancing apps, which many of my friends share on their IG stories. 

These apps allow us to try on different hairstyles, makeup, clothes and accessories for a small dose of glitz and glamour.  

We experiment with the latest fashion trends, filters and looks with various beauty apps and find out what style suits each other best through our IG stories. 

For example, some friends prefer an Old Hollywood glamorous look, whereas I prefer a more contemporary and youthful style. 

I would encourage fellow millennials who are not on IG to at least explore its functions.

I for one am glad that I did not give up on it despite my initial reservations.

Now, I use both Facebook and IG. While I find Facebook more suitable for sharing articles and links, IG has an edge in helping one gain a following and some influence through the sharing of original contents.

Of course, IG will have both its lovers and haters.

Some of my friends are local influencers on IG and curate their contents carefully to build their brand, yet others, like my old self, find it unspeakably “shallow” and even possibly narcissistic.

The truth is that every spark of an idea, capture of a moment or flash of thought can be shared by anyone on IG easily.

A premium on novelty means that content with visual appeal and originality tends to resonate better. 

I think whether you love or hate it, there is no denying that it is a platform for creativity.

A few friends are encouraging me to try TikTok. 

For now, TikTok videos look challenging to film and require high levels of video editing skills. 

Yet, given my positive experience discovering IG, I may well make it my new year resolution to master TikTok in 2021.



Alvona Loh Zi Hui is a junior doctor who works at a public hospital in Singapore. She likes to explore the latest technological advancements. 

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