Let’s first start by acknowledging a fundamental truth that we all know deep down, but are afraid to admit: every Instagram story comes alongside its own ulterior motive. If you wanted to show your mates how nice your new hair looks, you would put it in the group chat, but instead you posted a selfie with the ‘subtle’ filter, waves placed expertly over your tits and an expression that says “sultry but casual.” That meme was actually just a ploy to see if the person you fancy would laugh-cry react. And those photos from the club were mainly to show your ex that you’re doing fine, actually.
This is a quietly accepted truth, because we all do it. But when we post something to get the attention of a few select people, for whatever reason, a whole load of others get caught in the web. You’re not just posting to your targets. You’re posting to your mum, siblings, colleagues, exes, school friends, uni mates, some rando you met in 2012, your barista who for some reason follows you now? With all that in mind, here is every single person who views your story.
THE ORBITING CIRCLE
The sex itself was adequate at best (committed: three times). In person, there was little chemistry, few moments of connection, even fewer laughs. And yet – pulled in by the gravity of your belfies and the videos of your friends smoking through a sheet mask to the tune of your cackling, they keep circling. Maybe you even encouraged the dynamic by adding them to your close friends. Either way, here you are, locked in this digital solar system until you’re at least a year into a literal engagement with someone, so you’re officially off the cards.
ALL THE LADS
The only people who genuinely care that you’re having a Nice Time, checking in. Along with the above, your most loyal viewers.
YOUR MUM, RANDOMLY POPPING UP MID-WAY TO LATTER THIRD
“You okay sweetheart???” reads a panicked WhatsApp from your mum. “Saw what you posted :( :(” What is she on about? Then you remember you put up that meme that’s like “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my depression! Anxiety! Paranoia! Low self-esteem! Abandonment issues!” and now she thinks you’re genuinely on the brink. You are, but that’s besides the point.
Your line manager, your Big Boss, Dad – whatever you happen to call them – is often dropping by. This is... probably fine, isn’t it? They’re more than a boss, they’re a cool guy, a David Brent to your Wernham Hogg. They get pissed with you at the pub on a Friday, they’ve seen you cry and what your face looks like before you throw up. They've also witnessed one of your childish strops on an away day. Strong weird energy, but will never be addressed, so soak up the problematic attention.
DISTANT RELATIVES WHO PROBABLY THINK YOU’RE A MASSIVE TWAT
Remember when you posted that three-story rant about never dating Capricorn Mars placements because they’re too authoritarian followed by a mirror selfie of you in tiny yellow sunglasses? Yeah, your cousin from back home who has a baby now and just bought a house even though she’s younger than you definitely thinks you’re a massive wanker.
THE SENOR/SENORITA FROM YOUR BARCELONA MINI-BREAK WITH THE GANG
Under the Spanish sun, it was a chance encounter (arranged on Tinder) that led you to meet. It’s beautiful, really, that despite only 10 x Corona, sunstroke and a broken condom being exchanged between you before you had to say hasta la vista, some things are built to last. Take that, Brexit!
PERSON FROM WORK YOU'VE SEEN ON A DATING APP AND KNOW YOU BOTH KNOW YOU SAW EACH OTHER ON THERE
I know how you see yourself, Sally. Outside these stifling walls, you’re a woman with fun T-shirts, a tiny dog and a penchant for Aperol Spritz.
YES, MORE WORK/CAREER-RELATED PEOPLE WHO DEFINITELY SHOULDN'T SEE WHAT YOU'RE POSTING
Great, now Dan from finance has seen you drunkenly gyrating to “Wild Thoughts” in your bra “3 hours ago” alongside the caption “yes bitchesssss.”
EXES YOU’RE MATES WITH
Maturity at its finest. Date someone good enough to break-up with, so they can share in your fine taste in astrology memes.
EVERYONE YOU EVER MATCHED WITH ON A DATING APP
This is similar in energy to ‘The Orbiting Circle’ except you haven’t slept together yet and tbh probably won’t because one of you is always in a relationship / neither can be arsed. Still, they will not stop watching you, and you will not stop watching them watching you, and they will not stop watching you watching them watching you, just in case.
You all still have the mostly hushed WhatsApp group where people occasionally post things that qualify as Big News: degrees, jobs, babies, engagements. It’s only fair that they have to see your bloated face covered by the week’s favourite filter.
That’s right hunni, soak up those lols. I hear those laughs from here.
PERV WHO REPLIES TO EVERYONE WITH A ‘REACT’ EMOJI
Oh hey there, friend of a friend who I’ve never met! I may not have replied to your last four heart-eye emoji ‘reacts’ to my selfies which are never meant for you, but by all means, send another one through. I will definitely be so overcome with horniness that I’ll DM you to come over right away so we can have lots of HOT SEX.
THOSE MATES OF MATES YOU MET A FEW TIMES FROM ‘GOING OUT’
Turns out that when people live for the sesh and the sesh only, there are 18 other hours in the day to fill with mindless nonsense (your social media output).
MATES YOU HAD A PAINFUL BREAK UP WITH
Whether it’s that uni mate that breadcrumbed you after a house share or a long-time pal that royally fucked you over, you can guarantee that with many ex-relationships, they’ll still follow your every move. Someone needs to go PhD-level deep on the motivations behind this – it’s sad and weird but a reality of modern life.
SOMEONE WHO GOT CAUGHT IN THE ACT STALKING YOU
You scroll through the list abstentmindedly on the loo like you always do, and then you see it. Your ‘big’ ex’s new gf. There’s her name and little avi, buried in the middle. HA! You feel a surge of satisfaction. They might be posting a constant reel of holiday pics with “this one” while you stay at home watching endless PornHub videos on incognito mode, but she just got caught stalking you, so who’s the real winner?
STRANGERS, PILED AT THE BOTTOM
To all those unknown avis: please, enjoy my 6/10 burnt risotto and pre-bedtime skincare regime, and goodnight.