We all use instagram to stay up to date with our friend’s meals, cats and obnoxiously frequent bike rides across the golden gate bridge. It’s easy to whine at your peers for posting two photos of their super cool new Beats by Dre because the different angles really highlight their modern design. I find that the people I spend time flicking upwards on iPhones with do more complaining about #instafood posts than enjoying the occasional macro shot of a leaf or Picstitch of a cool new home design project.
What much of my demographic doesn’t realize is that there are much worse places on Instagram. Places where teenagers post screencapped images from the internet as opposed to creating original content as instagram intended. Places where a picture of a poorly rolled joint next to a half finished bottle of mountain dew garners 202 likes. I recently did some investigative reporting into this seedy underbelly of the app we all love, and I’ve uncovered some truly horrific sub-cultures.
Getting this done was no easy feat. In order to blend in with the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the insta-verse, I had to doll up my account a bit first. I started by following several accounts off of the popular page to reduce my once flawless follower-following ratio. I completed my disguise by adding an “I follow anyone who follows me” to my account. I could have gone the whole nine yards and decked out my profile with: Loves to play Ball (basketball emoji), A lover not a fighter (purple heart emoji), Cats!! Meowwww!!! (cat emoji). However I feared this would be a transformation my account would never recover from. I still intend to return to the regular instagram world.
The most common accounts to run into these days are those belonging to tech-savvy-tweens. Their postings are epitomized by the sea of heavily filtered photos of happy young couples with things like “When boys take u to shows” scrawled across the center. Below such posts they copy and paste a series of #pleasefollow #followme #2kfollowers #helpmegetto2k #followme #ialwaysfollowback #ipromise hashtags that seem to never end. Due to the hyper-social nature of today’s youth, these 4-panel selfies and reposts get more attention than all the awkwardly framed pictures of Dolores Park I can muster.
This next hidden network I stumbled into half by accident. I began by following TheKillerTruth, the face of a brand/business called The Likable Assholes or TLA for short. TheKillerTruth’s posts are accompanied by several hundred word rants about how bitches in the club need to keep their shit in line because they aren’t special or about how Ray J’s new I hit it first album cover is hilarious. The best part of my TLA discovery has been delving into the accounts of other likeable assholes. MarcusTwoBraids, a self-proclaimed “hair weave dealer”, has brought me a daily log of his recovery from alcoholism and new addiction to alkaline-enriched water, as well as several dozen advertisements for his new business selling “high end virgin Brazillian straight/wavy”. I’m also following their third partner, JayBling, but his asshole misadventures, although likable, are much less exciting.
I understand why these tweens and The Likable Assholes are able to amass large collections of followers. If you spam enough hashtags or post enough relatable insta-rants anyone can get to the seemingly arbitrary but all important 2k followers. There are a ton of accounts that I have deemed to be inexplicably famous. ***AZARY07*** has six hundred and thirteen thousand followers who seem unable to get enough of his mildly overweight form and frequently emphasized hairy chest. CrazyyAss_JJ has over forty thousand followers who like his pictures of half empty bottles of Skyy Vodka and Luinakz is a Kazakhstani pop star who’s following has opened my eyes to Instagram’s international presence.
We instagram inside bubbles. Our feeds are representative of our networks. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than flipping through grams on someone else’s account and seeing your shared friends but also their foreign follows. However through these investigations I’ve learned that there are worlds of other content creators out there. While the teenage spambots can grow tiresome, there’s still a few likeable assholes to be found.