I *Think* It’s Possible to Go Apple Picking Without Instagramming It—but Had to Check With an Expert to Be Sure

Photo: Getty Images/Santiago Urquijo
According to my own newsfeed, 7 out of 10 Katies and 4 out of 5 Jessicas have already posted an apple-picking Instagram this fall. It’s an autumnal inevitability at this point that come September, well-filtered women in cable-knit sweaters or plaid tunics (depending on the temperature) and booties (no matter the temperature), will star in essentially the same photo. There they are, reaching for the fruit, and year after year, I'm at a loss for understanding why.

First, a Don’t @ Me Clause: My personal brand of basic is more of the millennial-pink, brunch-going kind. I’m not above boarding planes, trains, and boats essentially just to spend $20 on avocado toast at a bubblegum-tinted greasy spoon—I may even photograph my plate before eating. My issue with the annual onslaught of apple-picking (and its cousin, pumpkin patch) ‘grams is more about how particularly disingenuous it all fells. The pretense of the photo is devoting an entire day to an errand that could be settled in a quick grocery run that you probably wouldn't even take because you probably don't even want to bake that pie. Unlike my affinity for overpriced avocado toast, which I'd honor regardless of social media (hey, a gal's gotta eat!), this brings about the question of whether you'd even go apple picking if not for Instagram?

Turns out, you might not.

Seasonal FOMO (Fear Of Missing Orchards) is to blame

Well, it seems FOMO is to blame for this whole phenomenon, according to Portland-based licensed clinical psychologist Goali Saedi, PhD, who writes a Psychology Today column about millennial media habits. Like latte art (and, sure, probably my pink-leaning brunch spots), apple picking keeps popping up in our feeds because nobody wants to to feel left out of the harvest. And so, a trend grows.

“The interest in a rural and pastoral setting has drawn us in for millennia, but social media, takes it to the next level by making it a lifestyle trend,” Dr. Saedi says. “I wish there were a deeper draw, but the reality is the deepest pull of all is a human need for connection, and social desire for belonging.”

Basically, an infinity-scarf-wearing Patient Zero posted that first Valencia-filtered shot showcasing a Jonagold, and here we are.

Basically, an infinity-scarf-wearing Patient Zero posted that first Valencia-filtered shot showcasing a Jonagold, and here we are. But once you add in the fall-season context, the near tense obsession with the activity does start making a bit of sense. "Autumn" is basically code for "everything is dying"; it's the death rattle of happy-making weather, if you will. So the notion of squeezing in apple-picking excursion while you can still stand even being outside can certainly intensity FOMO for the susceptible among us.

Photo: Getty Images/Niedring Drentwett

That said, there are benefits to apple picking

Breathe easy, those of you nervously whispering, “But I genuinely love apple picking,” to your screen. The convergence of fresh air and low-level activity is a winning combination—one study even provides evidence that outdoor exercise produces greater feelings of revitalization, enjoyment, satisfaction, and positive engagement than indoor exercise. Likewise, it’s better for lowering negative emotions like tension, anger, and depression. And hey, you’ll get your steps in!

There's also the nutritional power of apples that makes a case for the Insta-bait afternoon being worthy of your time. Apples have been shown to lower cholesterol, improve lung function, and decrease blood pressure. And the high fiber content may fight obesity by promoting good gut bacteria (especially if you get your Granny Smith on).

But if you're really just picking for the 'gram, you’re not doing yourself any good

Seriously. In fact, one recent study shows technological disruptions can counteract the restorative benefits of nature. And Dr. Saedi believes an essential part of enjoying this fresh-air bonding experience is to unplug. “It misses the entire point when we are so focused on capturing the moment to broadcast it to the world instead of being mindful and present,” Dr. Saedi says.

Good point. It’s social media that put such a pressure on #aesthetic apple picking that some are no-doubt getting blowouts to climb on hayrides.

Bottom line: Get down with your Golden Delicious #goals

To circle back to the original disclaimer, of course I’m not one to judge someone’s basic-goals prowess—no one is! These are stressful times we’re living in, and we need more safe spaces. If apple picking genuinely transports you back to a happier, healthier place, then you do you, Madison, Ashley, and Lauren.

If apple picking genuinely transports you back to a happier, healthier place, then you do you, Madison, Ashley, and Lauren.

Just try to be present: Put the phone down, pull that coveted Honeycrisp off the branch, and breathe. It’s good to be in the moment. Capturing this pure slice of fall in your mind is enough.

...Okay, maybe one snap, but can you at least get off your boyfriend’s shoulders for the shot? Like, It’s been done before.

Careful with the social media—it could be to blame for sky-high rates of loneliness. And one Instagram filter in particular may be a sign of depression.

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