There is nothing quite like Julia Fox’s Instagram presence. In between photoshoots of skin-tight black outfits and massively viral eyeliner looks, Fox writes entire paragraphs to detail her posts. “I love these photos. I love that they aren’t over—edited,” Fox captioned a photoshoot that she and her entourage did to accompany an interview for The Cut. In short, on the internet, Fox keeps her emotions on her sleeve—and it's incredibly refreshing to watch.
Amidst her whirlwind romance with Kanye West (now referred to as Ye), Fox documented everything online, whether it be through guest–writing articles, opening up for interviews, or posting freely on her Instagram. In the month that the two were together, Fox held nothing back from the world, sharing boldly in a way that few are brave enough to do.
Through this, Fox has effectively mastered the art of the Instagram “hard launch,” telling her followers exactly what is going on with her life. The hard launch is hard to come by these days, most of Gen Z using social media in the exact opposite way and subscribing to the soft launch, where people will subtly indicate to their followers that they're in a relationship.
For Fox, almost everything is worthy of becoming Instagram—official, while for Gen Z, almost nothing is. Scrolling through the social media platform, a photo of a couple is hard to come by, with many people opting to keep their relationships "private, but not secret." In fact, for most people, it would be considered weird to post a picture with a partner on Instagram until the relationship is serious, epitomized by the hate that Fox received throughout her relationship. Because of this, many opt for the soft launch, putting up ambiguous pictures on Instagram stories of date nights with an anonymous individual or photos of the back of someone’s head.
The soft launch is even popular among celebrities. Kourtney Kardashian effectively soft—launched her relationship with Travis Barker, posting a photo of their untagged hands intertwined to her grid before things got serious. Gen Z’s favorite couple, Tom Holland and Zendaya, are still in the soft—launch phase, posting photos with relative ambiguity, even as they subtly confirm their relationship through interviews and walk the red carpet together.
Compared to the relatively public ways youth used to announce relationships, why is Gen Z departing from the norm and soft—launching their partners? In the past, people would update their Facebook status or even post photos to Snapchat stories very early into a new relationship. Now, it's almost embarrassing to post your partner everywhere on social media. Why?
Is it because we are trying to be cool and mysterious, only showing the world little snippets of our lives? Or is it created by a fear of the permanence of social media, with posts staying online forever while partners come and go?
It seems like the answer to this question is Gen Z's fear of commitment. As Refinery 29 puts it, “this is the generation with an (apparently) endless rotation of options on dating apps, who get the ‘ick’ when things become overly formal.” In fact, recent research found that just ten percent of Gen Z is “committed to being committed.”
So while it's always fun to see couples come and go from social media, we might see less and less of that type of content as Gen Z takes center stage. Maybe our lack of Instagram—official posting will help us achieve more genuine relationships and get over the hurdle of relationship commitment.