I’m an Insta Poet and I Hate Punctuation


I’m an Insta Poet and I Hate Punctuation

Illustration: Arati Gujar

The other day a person asked me if I’ve read Hemingway. “No sir,” I said giving him the eyebrow. “That’s not how our generation does it.”

No time for Hemingway. I’m spent anyway. I have just written three sentences about a half-eaten avocado on my blossoming Instagram feed. No commas, no full stops, just 12 words mashed together. And rhyme schemes? Oh they are for the oldies and The Beatles. Us Instagram poets? We’re innovating with new ways to not tax our syntax – or indeed, our brains.

But those who still obsess over dusty books in crammed libraries or quote Bukowski, fail to understand the finer things in life – like getting unwarranted attention without compromising on our social-media addiction. Connoisseurs of literature, aka “intellectuals” often dismiss our struggle as a “juvenile race for followers”; they belittle our art often likening it to “statements that don’t make sense,” but I suspect they’re just jealous they’ve never had 10,354 likes for their free-verse poetry.

The best part about Instagram poetry is that anyone with an internet connection can do this. You don’t need a fancy literature degree, or any idea of how language works to be able to put forth musings on past lovers, or explore the human condition free of any punctuation.

Instagram poetry is the voice of our generation, and if you don’t like it, you’re either irrelevant, or ignorant.

But it is by no means easy. Sure, self-expression takes away some of the pressure from actually writing words that make sense, but there is an elaborate structure to planning, writing, and posting. An important lesson I’ve learnt is to never undermine the power of hashtags. The world is driven by likes and shares.

And as I’ve always said, “There is no such thing as a new idea.” If you are a Google addict, you’ll find out that Mark Twain said this first. But whatevs. The pressure we face today is immense, so we’ve decided that plagiarism is not just okay, but a habit to be felicitated with book deals. Yeah sure some poet wrote a few woke lines somewhere, but did he think to put them against a coffee-stained background? Was there a pair of spectacles in the frame? Did they write it on a Mac? No, that was all us.

Anyway, in the fight between plagiarism and popularity, popularity wins. And we, the poets of Instagram, are proud to retain our popularity. Sure go ahead and snigger, but plagiarism is the best form of praise. I was particularly proud of the time I wrote about daffodils and clouds.  

Perhaps the greatest accusation levelled against Insta poets, is that we romanticise negative emotions in order to manipulate impressionable readers. But that’s just ridiculous! Insta poets have no idea what any of those words mean. For us, anything that is seen as “relatable”, no matter how self-destructive, or indecipherable, is fair game.

Case in point; a recent poem by Instagram poetry sensation, Atticus:
/ I’ll love you, but just this twice./

Or, this beauty by Komal Kapoor:
/ I don’t know what is worse; loving you lonesomely or hoping to hate you soon. /

Instagram poets are the poets of the people – terribly tiny filter fairies and the masters of GIF. And at the end of the day, it all boils down to who gets hearted the most. If fast-food chains can thrive on unfit customers, and the media can exist to introduce paranoid hallucinations to their audience, what’s wrong with writing a poem that makes a 14-year-old say, “Woah, those words describe my life.”

Would you rather put in hours of research and effort into writing something that no one reads, or pen an ode to the lover who left, over and over again, only to receive guaranteed gratification every time?

The choice is simple really. Style over substance. Milk and honey over truth and pessimism. Instagram poetry is the voice of our generation, and if you don’t like it, you’re either irrelevant, or ignorant.

And in neither
case, does
much matter.
(There, another masterpiece done. Bring out the awards and the book deal already.)

Now that my 13,000 followers have cried their collective hearts out to it, it’s just a matter of time before a couple of content-creating, clickbait websites repost it, and I’ll never have to look back. Publishers will be beating my doors down, just you wait.