If you asked me, as a teenager, what I might be doing at the age of 25, I would have probably said something vague about holding down a job with a salary, still living in London and maybe owning a duck egg SMEG fridge one day if I’m lucky. What I would never have envisioned, though, is that alongside my regular “real” life, I would be living another, virtual one. Specifically: one that many engage in. One that exists inside our phones and involves uploading a constant reel of videos to followers who will observe us, and who we will observe observing, and who will observe us observing them observing, like our own personal reality show except we’re the only contestant, and the only editor, and it never goes off air. I’m speaking about Instagram stories.
If you’re in your twenties or thirties – i.e. too old for Snapchat, too bored of Twitter – there’s a high chance you post IG stories regularly. And as they’re so quick and easy to upload, there’s also a chance you’ve posted some questionable ones while you’ve been out and then had to delete them at 7AM when you wake up in a cold sweat and realise that Tristan from your office – who for some reason is always the first person to view your stories – has now seen you lick ketamine off an Almost Famous poster "3 hours ago" alongside the caption "yes bruh" and now you might be fired. I haven’t done that one, yet, but I did once post seven consecutive videos of myself earnestly smoking a joint to “Wild Thoughts” while moving my head in this very specific way – almost like my neck had become unhinged – that I have not been able to live down since.
Anyway, because this is a relatively new phenomenon that I don’t think has been explored in enough detail yet, I decided to speak to some people about the worst, most regrettable things they have posted on their own Instagram stories. They have all asked to remain anonymous, obviously, considering not doing so was what got them in trouble in the first place.
This one time, when I was at a Christmas party, I posted a video of myself with a bag of coke in my mouth and then wrote on it “Let it snow! Let it snow!”. I just have no filter, and I’m always thinking it’s my finsta when it’s actually my main. It was up there for at least seven hours, and literally nobody replied. I think my friend told me about it before I checked my story the following morning.
I saw my ex watching my stories, so I wrote in different posts “fuck off!” and “stop watching my story!” and “you have a small dick!” with his name in full. I left it up there all day. He didn’t follow me at the time, but I’d done a test by posting different stories and he would always view them within an hour. I didn’t care though because he was very emotionally abusive and evil and I hated his guts. I think all my mates hated him too so I got a lot of “YAAASSS” in my DMs. He stopped watching my stories after that.
Me and some friends took MDMA and hung out in this cemetery near my house and I thought it would be a good idea to post a kind of monologue on my stories where I spoke sincerely about “breaking down the barriers between us” and “people should come hang out with me more because I’m a nice guy” and then there were some more where I was face down on a grave. I deleted it a few hours later, but that was after racking up a few laughing cry emojis in my inbox. Also, my friends still take the piss by saying “I’m a nice guy!” to me all the time.
I once posted a tape worm wriggling in the toilet bowl, suspected to have arrived via my flatmate’s bowels.
Someone filmed me when I was really, really drunk and screaming "Bitch Better Have My Money" by Rihanna at karaoke and I uploaded it to my stories, but I was too wasted to think the whole thing through properly, and didn’t realise I’d actually sung the "n word", and then uploaded the bit where that happens, which is obviously problematic. I woke up the next morning with a few well-meaning friends in my DMs being like "eerrrrrm?" and I quickly took it down and apologised.
The worst one I’ve posted was of me peeing into a pint glass at [London queer club] Vogue Fabrics. It overflowed and then I just chucked the pee out out as it was overflowing. I only took it down after my sister saw it and then I realised that if I wanted to be employed I should delete.
My mate dared me to post a naked mirror selfie on there, so I did it purely to make him laugh and because he said that there was no way I’d do it. I kept it up there for about an hour before I had to take it down. To be fair, I looked good in the photo, but then my aunt saw and I felt weird about that so got rid ASAP.