The Maladjusted Adult’s Guide to Instagram

by:   |   Jan 28 2014

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The Maladjusted Adult’s Guide to Instagram

Every day, people attempt to pry Instagram secrets from me. After all, years of significant time and energy investment have garnered me literally tens of devoted followers. As with anything, the secret to success is investing the time and energy into creating the illusion of disinterest.

Things are getting to be a little weird, since we now have peers who have created humans old enough to be water-skiing, and we’re hypothetically aspiring to maintain some façade of respectability (for the day that may or may not come, when we decide to seek a meaningful career). Don’t lose sight of the end game with all of this, though: validation for a misgoverned life via indulgent, high-contrast panoramic pictures of your living room.

If you are guilty of a grievance listed here, just remember that more depressing than doing any of these things would be if you sat down and wrote 1,000 words about your Instagram grievances.

Shattered Delusions

If you have a calculated image you’ve created in earnest via highly curated and heavily edited posts, I’m guessing it looks about 4 parts sad for every 6 parts cool. This is not to say you should be engaged in constant self-sabotage, but the representation of a mature well-adjusted successful person is completely unrelatable to 99% of us at this point, and we’re all aware of its high, high improbability.

If you’re under the impression that you’re at the forefront of some kind of alternative/fashion/social scene in the twilight of your youth, just know that your followers aren’t convinced of that fact by your constant stream of self-serious and conspicuously staged photos with your equally delusional friends.

Dogs and Babies

Sort of espousing a ROGUE opinion here, but that shit is cute as hell and you should keep doing it. Unless you are updating me on their every move, in which case I will grow to resent them.  Also, if your social media consists of dogs and/or babies exclusively, it will end up depressing me.


Do whatever they tell you to do.

Significant Other/Spouse

Listen, you are steering this ship—at least pretend to have an identity outside of your relationship. Sprinkle in some sunset pictures or something, because that unabashed codependence is suffocating my eyeballs.

Common Pitfalls

–Picstitch: if it looks like it took 20 minutes to create your tableau, the viewer becomes depressed. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s hilarious and you should keep doing it.

–Inaccessible picture of nothing: An inside joke or obscure reference intended for 2 people need not be put on public display. e.g. “look who left another snack in my cubicle” [picture of Oreos on desk]. We don’t know what this is and it’s distressing. Is it a clue? Are you ok? Have you been abducted? What can you see from where you are?

–Text conversation screencaps: We have no context and it’s depressing that you consider this moment as a part of your Cutting Wit Hall of Fame.

–American flag as a prop: Why are you standing in the woods wrapped in a flag? Who took this picture? How were you not embarrassed while posing for this picture? Why are you doing this to us?

–Moustaches: Don’t hold a moustache on a stick up to your face. Don’t hold your finger over your mouth like it’s a moustache. Don’t engage in wedding photobooth facial-hair prop shenanigans. Let’s lay this to rest.

–Succulents: Just use discretion with these, OK?

–Brunch: Awful

–Starbucks cup: Why are you posting this.


AND: The Final Word Re: Compulsive Hate-Following

It’s a topic that is shameful to talk about: nobody wants to be doing this. We all aspire to be above it. I never wrap up a solid stalk session like, “OK, now I feel better about myself, and this day.” But I think of it like the city needle exchange programs for heroin addicts—as long as it’s happening anyway, we should all engage in open discourse about how to go about it SAFELY.

There are many reasons we obsessively follow the social media of people we don’t actually like. Maybe we dated them for 3 years. Perhaps they’ve found success in the field you spend hours a day considering working toward thinking about getting started in. Hell, I’m checking in on some folks for whom I’ve long since forgotten the source of my initial hatred. The key here is to avoid accidentally liking a photo.  Because it doesn’t matter if you unlike it. They still get notified. They will know…

They will know.

I hope this helped. Good luck with Instagram—your reward for all of this will be in heaven.

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Kaeleigh Fieri is a thought leader and social influencer living in Ridgewood, Queens. She has many friends and a smile that lights up a room. She is very powerful.