Have you posted your R.E.P.O.R.T. yet? No? How embarrassing. Everyone else has, and now they’re saying you didn’t post one because you can’t read.
In case you haven’t heard, R.E.P.O.R.T. is the latest trend that encourages us to aestheticize our lives online, participate in capitalism, and photo dump on the feed — but with a Purpose. It has mostly taken off on TikTok, where users post slideshows that recap their weeks.
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“Obsessed with this trend and will be participating every week from now on,” one user, @emmytrounce, captioned her post.
The first image is whatever the hell they want it to be — maybe a photo of a bookstore like in this TikTok; a cup of tea seen here; a photo of yourself, like this user did. The first image is important because it sets up the vibe for the rest of the slideshow, but the real meat of the posts comes in with the following six images which correspond to any of the R.E.P.O.R.T. letters:
R is for Reading
E is for Eating
P is for Playing
O is for Obsessing over
R is for Recommending
T is for Treating
One of the first R.E.P.O.R.T.’s came from @gooseweek on TikTok, who appears to post them weekly and is frequently credited as the creator of R.E.P.O.R.T. by other people who post their own. Most of the videos have a cottagecore vibe, and are, decidedly, less Patrick Bateman than a lot of posting trends. The R.E.P.O.R.T.s give viewers the idea that someone who prioritizes activities like reading, eating well, playing, and indulging in themselves is someone who might have a healthy relationship with the internet. But that, too, is an aesthetic itself. I am so tired.
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There is nothing about this trend that seems particularly nefarious, but it is another example of how we are all expected to constantly monitor our own activities for the consumption of others, particularly online. Reading a book? You must add it to your public Goodreads account and post about it on your Instagram Stories. Watching a movie? Rate it on Letterboxd. Made a cute meal? Show me, or no you didn’t. Hanging out with friends? Prove it, or everyone will think you’re alone all the time. After all, what’s the point of existing if no one else knows how you’re doing it?
Unfortunately, there really isn’t any winning with these kinds of trends: If you refuse to participate in them you’re a hater, and if you participate in them all you’re a glutton for clicks. This trend, for what it is, is cute. Enjoy your life. Post about your life if you feel compelled to and, if you want to use a template, this is one that exists.
But all social media — this trend particularly — is a participation in self-surveillance. And we know that self-surveillance probably affects the way we enjoy what we’re reading, what we’re eating, how we’re playing, what we’re obsessing over, what we’d recommend, and which treats we indulge in. Because only the most aesthetically pleasing images can fit into the photo dump.