This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
I sometimes forget that my mom uses Instagram. I love that we follow each other (we're close, and she forwards me high quality memes), but that doesn't mean I don't occasionally feel a stab of discomfort when I scroll through my stories list and see her little icon, nestled between someone I once shagged and a distant colleague, observing my thirst trap from afar.
Instagram's a weird one for this. On the one hand, it's primarily the app we use to demonstrate how hot we are, DM people we like, and overshare about our crippling depression. But on the other, it's become so ubiquitous that a lot of our family members are now on there too. It's not for mega young people anymore—they're elsewhere—it's for everyone else. So when you post that 1 a.m. selfie in the club, there's a high chance that your dad might be the first to see it.
But what do our parents actually think about our Instagram accounts? Do they enjoy seeing pictures of their grown-up children constantly on their phones, even though the filters we've used make our faces look weirdly young and smooth? Or do they not know what Instagram is, and find the idea of us posting videos where we crash-zoom into our friends' faces really very strange?
I got some VICE staff to call up their parents to find out.
A review of Nana Baah's Instagram account, by her mom
"I like that you manage to take interesting pictures of the things you do in your life. It's really nice to look at. I really like your latest posts, with the sheep and hills in Devon, and you looking like a stunning model on the beach.
I can tell from some of these pictures—the one where you’ve got your glittery bosom out, with the Playboy necklace—that you're proud of your body. I'm so glad. It’s a very positive thing that you love your body.
But I don't think our Instagrams would be the same if I was your age and knew how to use it. I'd post pictures of my favorite shoes, handbags, and probably have a daring short purple haircut."
A review of Daisy Jones' Instagram account, by her mom
"I like following you on Instagram. I like to see what you're up to, and I like the visual element of yours. You select pics that have to do with the aesthetic quality, so I like to see what the next one is. The stories are quite daily, and I find that reassuring. It’s a good way to keep track of whether you’re alive. If I haven’t heard from you, I can see that you were alive that day.
Your Instagram is different from how I know you. You change your face, you make your lips look like they're upside down, like a pug. No, but really, when I see you, you’re totally moody and have makeup down your face. Whereas, in your pictures, you look… I don’t know, the opposite.
Nothing on your Instagram has shocked me, but I am relieved you like art. When you were little, the whole time I was at art school, you’d be like, 'I hate art; I don’t want to see any more art!' But now you’re like, 'Oh, I love this little bit of art.' And actually, I can see we’ve got quite similar interests. You’re not the same as me, but we’re of the same tribe."
A review of Zing Tseng's Instagram account, by her mom
"What do you want me to say? I don't think you're different on Instagram. You're just the same. Sometimes I look at your Instagram stories, but half of the time I don't know what you're talking about. Sometimes if I find the link, I do follow the—what do you call it—the comments from people to find out what they think about you. But I don't understand what they're talking about either, because they have all these jargon and abbreviated words that I don't quite understand. For example, you reply to someone saying 'wholesome veg content 2k19.' I don't understand what is 2k19.
Selfies are... something you took of yourself, is it? You don't have many selfies. Yours are always taken by other people, or you take [them] with somebody else, which I assume somebody else took of you. They're nice. I don't know who these people are anyway.
"Some parents might be shocked, but I'm never shocked by you because there's nothing to be shocked about. Sometimes I do find that some of your dresses are quite nice, and the fact that you dare to wear them is quite bold as well. The surprising one is the one you posted of you when you were young. The caption is: 'Your eight year old self could never...' Could never what? That's why some of the things you write I can't follow because they are not proper English. Not grammatically correct.
"Your Instagram is quite nice, actually. Some of the other Instagrams always take pictures of the food they are going to eat, that kind of thing. Yours lets people see what you're doing—it's very varied. Now I'm looking at you with a horse—or a goat?—it's a horse. That's a nice horse. [You should post] more photos of you and animals. And some of the funny people you come across. Not celebs—celebs are OK, too, I suppose—but sometimes when you are traveling you meet up with some interesting people and tell a story about them."
A review of REVIEW OF Ruby Lott-Lavigna's Instagram account, by her dad
"It's basically vacation and food snaps. It strikes me as being far better quality than anything I've ever done, with a real camera, when I was in my 20s. It's better composed, better shot—more interesting, basically. Everything's very posed in photographs, which I suppose is a function of the Instagram generation; the pose, which has a few variations, as far as I can make out.
Yours is sophisticated, I suppose. Constantly peripatetic—you're always moving. There's huge amounts of diversity here in terms of location. Slightly... there's lots of attitude, isn't there? But then you're quite attitudinal. It's almost as if you're rehearsing an attitude in the photographs—a quite tough 'don't fuck with me' attitude—except when you're with puppies. Then your mask slips into this incredibly sweet happy little girl who's got tons of puppies.
"There's a very fun one of you where you look quite evil—it might have been Halloween, I don't know. But you really do look evil. There's nothing remotely provocative on there. Lots of fam, lots of food, but not enough of me, I don't think? Why you would take a photograph of orange slices is beyond me."
A Review of Helen Thomas' Instagram account, by her mom
"My instant thoughts were... a bit too much lipstick. I don't like the look of what you are holding in your hands. Wasn't Twinkle [our hamster] beautiful and sweet? I didn't know you had your arm in a sling at Roskilde?!
I would say your whole Instagram is pretty representative. Obviously the ones I like best are the ones I can personally relate to. But the persona represented on there looks as if she is cheerful, optimistic, enquiring, loves her friends, loves animals, is happy with her family. And that's pretty good, I'd say."
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