Instagram is a rare app in one specific way: Just about every update results in significant hype beyond the tech community, something that other apps (even ones that also have millions of users) aren't always able to achieve.
The latest update, Instagram Stories' Type mode, which added four new font options — strong, modern, neon, and typewriter — was no different when it debuted last week. Users were quick to take to Twitter hailing the arrival, furiously questioning when they would get the update if they hadn't already, and noting how certain fonts, like the cursive script of "neon", added character to their Stories. "Instagram's new font features make my fangirling look real aesthetic," one woman tweeted. Others called attention to the Supreme-ish vibe of the "strong" style. (Though if you're going to make that comparison, it's important to recognise artist Barbara Kruger, too.)
Compared with flashy animations and graphic filters, it can be easy to forget that something as seemingly basic as typeface really does make a huge difference. Fonts have long affected the way messages are conveyed and perceived in realms beyond social media, from advertising to resume-writing. Some fonts look ridiculous when used in certain scenarios (you would never use Lucida Calligraphy to write a cover letter), while others, such as comic sans, are just universally mocked.
"Type is incredibly powerful in helping to convey a message in the right tone," professional type designer Jessica Hische, told Refinery29 over email. "You wouldn't use the same type style to post about a death in your family as you would to post about an epic night of drinking for a friend's thirtieth birthday. 'Tone deaf' posts and prompts on social media networks are a real issue, so anything that lets you share with the right voice is a step in the right direction."