The New Instagram Zen

The New Instagram Zen (1)

Open the explore tab on your Instagram app and chances are, in the midst of personalized content, you’ll find the “Oddly Satisfying” section. You have to see these videos to understand their appeal, so I’ll just say the section features colorful, often viscous substances being played with in an alluring way. I know, odd…

These posts are also becoming massively popular. This one, for example, tallied over a million views a day after being posted:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQveXWhla-h/

The account itself dedicates itself to this sort of videos. It has accrued 100k followers merely six months after being established, according to the account’s bio. There’s an undoubtable charm to their videos. They have a quality both relaxing and abstracting. Like squishing a stress ball, only not nearly as tiresome.

They sell the stuff. Their bio links to an Etsy page selling the slime used on the videos. The posts, then, are brilliant advertising: they feature only the product and yet anyone would want to see them.

Indeed, most of the slime accounts follow that model. Another example:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQx5SsMB_NN/

But also notice the tags: #relaxation, #relax, #anxietyrelief, #stressrelief, #sleepaid etc…

They touch precisely on what makes these posts so “odd” against the typical Instagram post. They are not like landscapes, or pictures of food, or art, or even memes for that matter, in that there’s no meaning behind them. Their effect is more akin to listening to white noise. They are meant to lull you, to provide a respite from all that.

They can’t even be compared to abstract art. They are positively about the concrete: about the touching of the slime and the physical reaction you get from it. That one even has sound adding to the soothing effect.

These relaxation clips could be even more welcome on Instagram than traditional art. Take @annettelabedzki’s account. She’s a Canadian artist who gets most of her Instagram attention not from her paintings, but from her #oddlysatisfying paint mixing videos:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQyDHyAhp3F/

There’s no effort of interpretation in watching a paint-mixing video like there would be in viewing a painting. There’s nothing but the mindless pleasure of watching carefully-arranged paint merge into a solid color.

The Zen-like lack of effort they require might explain their allure.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQwQDDYhJqn/

Here’s a variation on the genre I particularly enjoy: the paint-mixing in the post below is reversed. It’s essentially the same process but there’s something more, dare I say it, satisfying about seeing the paint separating when you have no idea what the arrangement is going to look like. The less context the better—there’s even less to think about.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQY1CciDcdb/?taken-by=craftyslimecreator

What can you make of a video like that? And yet you watch. For a minute you phase out, more relaxed than satisfied and more soothed than entertained.

Previously in the Metter Media blog, we worried about how stressful social media has been of late. We had been feeling the effects of “trending news, trolls, and eco chambers.” Things were getting to be a bit too much.

I, for one, welcome the “Oddly Satisfying.” The not only aesthetically pleasing but purposefully soothing. A small place within endless content to just phase out and relax. Perhaps we’ve found a new, more therapeutic side to social media.

Metter Media LLC is a Boston-based social media management company that implements community-based, localized social engagement strategies for small businesses and corporations alike. Need help with your social media? Email Lauren today.

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