Instagram: A Mute Witness to Class Divide

If in circa 2020, you are on your balcony garden, sipping chilled cocktails with edible flowers amid a world pandemic, congratulations, you’ve made it in life.

While people across the world are scrambling to put meals together with limited to no access to daily essentials, the few privileged are busy posting Instagram stories of parsley rice and red wine roast chicken.

Sure, my dad’s dahi bhallas were delectable, but only I know the battle my parents fought to safely smuggle a packet of 1 kg yogurt this morning. While we constantly hear our neighbours’ woes as they struggle to get their hands on some humble dhaniya from local sabziwallaas, I wonder how certain humans are still managing to flavour their pot of rice with exotic herbs and to maintain a pantry more gourmet than a Michelin star-chef’s ever could be.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the first nationwide lockdown on March 24, the Instagrammer in us secretly grinned, anticipating a no-fuss, level playing field finally. However, little did we know that influencers had their Brahmastras ready, and we were caught off guard in an ambush by dalgona coffee and banana bread at point-blank range.

In no time, what was to be a relaxed social media discourse became a rat race for showing off your whipping skills and mounting ridiculous amounts of caffeinated foam in a glass of milk-on-the-rocks.

(A moment of silence for all the aunty WhatsApp forwards that warned against the consumption of cold beverages during the times of coronavirus).

Also read: ‘Hashtag Life’: Is Instagram Our Saviour During Lockdown?

And where do I even begin with culinary adventures documented by celebrities in their sea-facing penthouses. Gorging on protein pancakes and gourmet French toasts – either they have notoriously not given their house-helps paid leave or they have permanently stationed them in their abodes. But the janta wants to know who is cooking up such elaborate fare.

As for impeccably dressed A-listers repeatedly using a jhadoo on their already glistening floors, please just give us a break. We know that Shanta Bai did it because if I were to be recorded doing jhadoo-pocha, I’d be seen covered in layers of dust and sweat.

Which brings me to another one of those lockdown sins: makeup.

Sure, I understand that wearing the same clothes (read pyjamas) for days on end with dishevelled hair and unwaxed eyebrows makes only the Grinch look prettier, but who has the energy to wear a winged eyeliner in the confines of our home when a) there’s really no place to go but from bedroom to living room and b) we are already running low on the makeup products we own.

To make matters worse, beauty influencers are doing makeup hauls, showing us party looks with all the freebies received till date – enough for opening a Sephora of their own.

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All of this madness does not mean that all social media influencers are all peas of the same pod. Some bonafide ones, on the other hand, are wiser and responsibly use the power of their verified, blue ticked accounts to talk about burning issues like the current migrant crisis or the lack of PPEs in the country. So what if their next Tik-Tok dancing session is already lined up, ready to go live at any moment, even before such posts are even finished uploading?

Finally, here’s a special bow of honour to the travel influencers who have something more lethal up their sleeve than the coronavirus itself. Such smarty pants have a lifetime supply of their pre-quarantine travel photographs. Each Thursday, they eagerly wait to throw up their picture-perfect throwbacks to Positano or Cote d’Ivoire or someplace that doesn’t quite roll off the plebeian tongue.

What makes one feel a twinge of envy is not the fact that those places have not yet been checked off on our bucket list, but of the impossibility of visiting them in the coming years. Not without a N95 respirator, to say the least.

Vanie Chahal is currently a fourth year law student at Panjab University.

Featured image credit: Eaters Collective/Unsplash