An Apology to the Cropped-Out Friend

Cropping is a cutthroat game


Sorry for cropping you, but I can instagram-brag for you instead!

Had Instagram existed during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette would have been decapitated years before the monarchy was abolished. With her exceptional tower of powdered hair, the Dauphine of France simply never would have fit in the frame.

I’m afraid that today’s guillotine is far bloodier.

Consider the summer group picture: “Come along,” someone cries, “Gather round!” The moment an iPhone is held in a sedentary manner, women and men flock to the herd. The bold ones will stand tall and wide, commanding their space in the frame. A few will pose and perch on the sides — these are either women who know their angles, or guys who don’t care. At least two people will take a bend for the team and squat like camp counselors up front.

It’s at this point that the fools rush in — they were in the bathroom or by the bar, but FOMO got the better of them; they couldn’t not be in the picture so they accept the back. On pointed toes they’ll stand while calves quake and chins wiggle to find and hold that open window of visibility through the shoulders of their “friends.”

Then the picture is snapped, the phone is handed off, the photo is mass-texted, and friendships (note previous quotation marks) are tested: who will make the cut?

The people posting have the right of way, of course. It’s all about them, their tan and their abs. But for the most part we can agree that when a group pic is assembled, the intent is to make known your squad — to have a crew so cool that a stranger comments, “#goals.”

Those spared are rarely done so for the sake of squad loyalty. It’s not not a picture without Kyle, but he’s needed for the guy-to-girl ratio. No one wanted Kim’s cousin to join, but she jumped in the middle and got saved by default. The picture will appear harmonious, yes, but just because Fran wasn’t voted off the island doesn’t mean she was technically ever voted on.

Likewise, sometimes a best friend’s gotta get cropped. She should know better than to leave the group. This is why we move in packs; go to the bathroom together; siege the bar: it significantly lowers one’s likelihood of getting stuck in the back right corner of a group pic.

But you understand, right? You get it. I didn’t make the square rule, Instagram did. All I took part in was the filtering and centering. And the cropping.

Look, I’m sorry. Off with her head!

Uh…Is Instagram Turning Me Into a Sociopath? Maybe.  But also, have you heard of Stranger Will You Take Our Picture? Season. It’s also a good time to work on your perfect (secret) Instagram account, or get bossed around by your Apple Watch.

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