What Are Instagram Stories, Anyway?

Instagram's latest update seems to be taking its cues from the wild child of the social platform family, Snapchat, and introducing a feature that lets you let loose: Instagram Stories. So what is the Instagram Stories feature, exactly? While I'm not entirely sure this new feature isn't just Insta putting my photo curation on blast, it does look like it's going to be pretty useful — basically, it lets you combine many photos and videos into one neat-o slideshow, thereby preventing your eight million sunset selfies from clogging everyone's feed. Instead, anyone who wants to look at all those photos of your lovely, well-lit mug can watch your story, getting 'em all out there in one go.

In a blog post published on Tuesday, the photo sharing app explained, "Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember. Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too." They're essentially saying, "Lighten up, everyone" — and honestly, that's not the worst advice. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between heavy social media use and higher rates of depression and feelings of isolation. Because yes, I do have certain IG accounts that I stalk because their glossy depictions of Life With A Lot of Plants and Every Meal Is A Communal Feast, Here, Have A Kumquat chill me out, there's also that underlying anxiety rearing its head every once in a while: Why doesn't my life have this many plants? When was the last time I ate a vegetable? Why do I suck in comparison to these beauties? Maybe Instagram Stories will help us cut down on our oversharing — or even share the less perfect images, the ones in between all the gloriously crafted ones, the ones we consider outtakes that we'd never dream of sharing otherwise.

Instagram Story will be rolling out globally across iOS and Android over the next few weeks, so get yourself acquainted now. That way, when the time comes, you'll already be a Story Kween. Here are the salient points:

What Is An Instagram Story?

An Instagram story is essentially a catch-all way to arrange the important moments in one, slideshow-like spot. It can be anything you want it to be — the story of your entire day, the outtakes of your entire day, a slideshow focusing entirely on your dog, whatever. The fact that they're compiled into a single slideshow prevents IG Feed spams (which are inevitable every time I do anything remotely fun); also, they disappear after 24 hours.

Your story will appear on both your profile and in a row at the top of your followers' feeds. Not only can you see the number of views each story gets, but also, you can see the actual usernames of people who have seen it as well. One big difference between a story and a regular post: People can't like or comment on an Instagram story.

What Can I Use An Instagram Story For?

Lots of things!

If you're going on a trip and you'd rather post one stellar photo as opposed to 15 silly but, uh, not as flattering ones, but, ugh, you love those unflattering ones, just not enough to post each on its own and let people pick it apart, then Instagram Story is for you!

If you went to a music festival and you feel that an accurate portrait of your day would be, "Grainy video, grainy video, super-zoomed in photo of lead singer, grainy video, your friend falling in mud," then amazing, now Instagram has the ideal platform!

If senior week NEEDS to be memorialized but, um, you're applying to jobs beginning next week, TA-DA, Instagram's got you covered. (But also, maybe don't post anything on social media that a potential employer might find objectionable.)

So, This Sounds Like Snapchat. Is It Like Snapchat?

Think Snapchat story, but in a more centralized location on your profile and without dog face filters (although there is the option to draw on the photo). But like Snapchat, Instagram stories are temporary; they vanish after 24 hours. So the short answer is, there are similarities, but it's still its own thing.

Images: Instagram (3)