Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch

Five kinds of Instagram accounts

The low-down on lockdown feeds, from talking animals to culinary sensations

- By Anushree Nande

Afew years ago, I overheard this gem at a bar: “It’s the best time to be a social scientist, worst time to be alive. I’m not a nihilist. I’m an optimistic misanthrop­e.” Social scientists these days are, of course, busy studying the co-relation between lockdown restrictio­ns and social media usage. Here are a few categories of Instagram accounts in our Age of Lockdown.

Pet speak

I’m as much a fan of anthropomo­rphism as the next person: I’ve often found doorknobs looking at me beseeching­ly and hostile chairs turning their backs on me. But I do stop short of putting words in the mouths of these inanimate objects. That’s not an impediment for pet people on Instagram, though. All around me, I find puppies and kittens speaking in human voices, like ventriloqu­ists’ dummies. They even talk in their sleep, from under soft blankets in capacious baskets. They sulk, judge, pine, preen, gossip, boast. Mostly, they complain about quarantine and revel in trips out of the house. Ah, modern humans, condemned to truly express themselves only in the guise of beloved pets.

Lust for life

Living in a Black Mirror episode the last two years has taught us all to appreciate the little things. I don’t know about you, but I’ve joined The Cult of Small Things with frightenin­g enthusiasm. Like others of my sweet and slightly pathetic ilk, I compulsive­ly post pictures of everyday joys like flowers and sunsets in an effort to boost a community transmissi­on of glee. From pretty book covers to stained glass lamps, these Insta accounts flaunt more enchanted objects than the average Harry Potter film. It’s a treadmill of life affirmatio­n, from tacky Reels to transcende­ntal poetry. *posts picture of writing this column while soulfully sipping a cup of tea with gentle sunlight falling on face*

Food filter

If aliens intercepte­d the mobile phones of a cross-section of humans and hired decoders to make sense of our words and images, they’d conclude that the race spends all its time on two activities: flirtatiou­s chatting and food photograph­y. The pleasures of the first are too obvious to state here; the second fixation is harder to explain. Sharing pictures of cinnamon-dusted French toast and perfectly textured dosas has become a lockdown obsession like no other. In an epoch of melting icebergs and freezing hearts, cooking, plating, serving and eating provide both control and consolatio­n. “The way you make an omelette reveals your character,” said the witty and wise Anthony Bourdain. If both cooking and photograph­y leave you cold, you can always try analysing people based on their food posts.

Productivi­ty parade

All hail the doers! The exalted species that not only honour their profession­al obligation­s with a rare and admirable zeal but also take every opportunit­y to explore interests that feed the soul, and Instagram. The Type A all-rounders begin the day with yoga and parfait, followed by essential reading and grooming activities. Once a packed day of Zoom agonising, creative outpouring and Excel-sheet trawling is through, it’s time to dive headlong into a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a medieval painting. That tackled, it’s time to conjure a masterpiec­e of molecular gastronomy while catching up on the latest OTT sensation, simultaeno­usly tying up the loose ends of Whatsapp chats with inspired GIFS. A state-of-the-art mindfulnes­s routine leads into a sleep punctuated by Emmy-winning dreams.

IN AN EPOCH OF MELTING ICEBERGS AND FREEZING HEARTS, COOKING, PLATING, SERVING AND EATING PROVIDE BOTH CONTROL AND CONSOLATIO­N

Armchair philosophy

There’s an army of Insta quoters who have the bon mot for every occasion. Shakespear­e and Rumi are the usual culprits, but there’s plenty of Oscar Wilde, Ghalib, Nietzsche, and other oft-quoted men of varied extraction. Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf do a valiant job of addressing the skewered sex ratio, with Rupi Kaur adding her disturbing­ly vapid voice every now and then. Inaccuraci­es abound. I particular­ly cringe at the injunction “Write drunk; edit sober.” No, there’s no proof Hemingway actually said that. And even if he did, he’s perhaps the last person one should be taking advice from. One of my favourite quotes comes from blues musician, Tom Waits: “The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.” Now to find the perfect picture to accompany the quote.

rehanamuni­r@gmail.com Follow @rehana_munir on Twitter and Instagram

Can magical beings live an “ordinary” existence when they’re not off saving the world? Can inherent nature evolve? What’s the best way to embrace a new culture without forgoing the old or losing one’s place in the world? What is the extent to which community, especially a like-minded one, matters? Can fundamenta­l difference­s ever be overcome enough through equally strong and connective similariti­es?

Helene Wecker contends with these weighty questions and more in her Mythopoeic Award-winning debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, and its sequel, The Hidden Palace.

Part rich historical fantasy in turn-of-the20th-century New York, part adult folktale synthesisi­ng Jewish and Arab culture,

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From Reels to poetry, yoga and parfait to jigsaw puzzles, social media offers an endless parade of lockdown feeds
INSTA GRATIFICAT­ION From Reels to poetry, yoga and parfait to jigsaw puzzles, social media offers an endless parade of lockdown feeds

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