For Your Consideration: Openly Scrolling Through Someone’s Entire Instagram Feed

for your consideration

Welcome to For Your Consideration, a new series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.

A few weeks ago, my friend was in the midst of an Instagram deep-scroll. She had found the Instagram account of someone she met once, a friend of a friend, and she simply needed to consume her entire Instagram history. Mid-creep, she committed a classic error. She accidentally liked a very old photo of this person with their family on Christmas.

Then the panic set in.

This friend of mine is prone to… extreme measures. The first time we ever spoke to each other, she stormed up to me in the college newsroom we both worked in and announced that we were in a fight because I had hung out with her best friend and she hadn’t been included. So, when she accidentally liked a stranger’s very old family Christmas photo, instead of just hastily unliking, this particular friend took extreme measures. She assumed a new Instagram identity. She changed the name in her bio to Frank B. Jones and removed her profile pic. In theory, the person whose life she scrolled through would get a notification for a very old photo, click through, and find a locked account for some mysterious and fictional deep-scroller named… Frank B. Jones. (I asked my friend and she said the B stands for Baptiste.)

My friend was mortified to the point of GOING UNDERCOVER. And when I used her mortification to fire off a tweet, droves of people weighed in with their own stories of accidentally liking during a deep-scroll. Some just quickly unliked. Some took more drastic Frank B. Jonesy levels. Some even fully deleted their accounts. Frank B. Jones was seen by Twitter as some kind of hero.

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Now, I definitely have to give my friend props for innovation, but I’m sorry to say… she is no hero. The real heroes are the ones who fully embrace deep-scrolling, who not only aren’t fazed by accidentally liking someone’s old photo but do it on purpose.

Shamelessly delve into the selfie archives of your crushes! Let them know you’re looking! Who cares?! If they didn’t want that content to be looked at, they would delete it. Nothing is more flattering to me than when someone likes a tweet of mine from like four years ago. It shows commitment and investment and a thoroughness that I respect! And if you think about it, it’s actually less creepy than doing it in secret.

It doesn’t always need to be a crush either. I’ve done a full scroll-through on everyone from someone I hooked up with one time to a straight girl I met at a bar in my hometown who cried to me, a complete stranger, about her boyfriend for thirty minutes to my former high school tennis rival… which is probably not the healthiest version of a deep-scroll, but hey, at least it wasn’t an ex!

Sometimes deep-scrolling on a potential new friend is a great way to learn more about them. Sometimes you just gotta keep scrolling way back until you find the evidence that that one girl from your church youth group who you thought was always maybe flirting with you a little bit is indeed queer and out and living her best life now. Sometimes it’s just nice to observe the evolution of one’s caption game or to see someone in a different light — and by that I mean see them in a Toaster filter.

Erin once instructed us to shamelessly and publicly flirt with each other because the world is ending anyway. Well, folks, she’s correct. And deep-scrolling on Instagram doesn’t have to be a shameful, secretive activity. It can be flirty! It can be informative! It can be a great conversation starter! Like hello, yes, I see that you went through a nautical jewelry phase in 2014, and you know what, I’m going to support you and your past self.

For the Frank B. Joneses of the world, embrace your inner social media sleuth. Embrace your ability to scroll so deep into the archives that suddenly you’re enmeshed in the Old Instagram aesthetic of borders and filters that washed people out to oblivion. Like that photo of the day they got their cat four years ago! It’s not weird. We’re literally all doing it.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a writer and critic currently living in Miami. Her fiction is upcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Her pop culture writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 239 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. I’m a shameless scroller. Actually, just last week I told someone I was looking at their social media (Facebook, in this case) and discovered we had a completely random connection. She said she always does her “research” too! Lol!

  2. “Like hello, yes, I see that you went through a nautical jewelry phase in 2014, and you know what, I’m going to support you and your past self.”

    This is because I attended that costume party as the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, isn’t it.

    (This actually happened, although I believe in 2015. And damn straight you should do a literature review of my Insta feed; it was fantastic and I’m still proud of myself.)

  3. If I had the fucks to give in this Cheetolini stanined world I might be all like “Greaat another social thing to have anxiety about where there was previously none because I lack social awareness to be anxious.” but nah I’m going to shark whale dragnet anything that makes me happy because it’s the anti-Cheeto and I want to outlast the Cheeto-stains.

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