When you press the heart, every human emotion—the one that wants to fuck; the one that is your mother on the iPad with the text size all the way up, painstakingly looking over every single post you’ve made in the last five years—is expressed by the same small motion: tap. Such a crude tool for such a vast and limitless range of human emotions. Consider this: At 6 p.m., an Instagram “like” implies something different than at 8 p.m. or 1 a.m. The like you don’t “like” is just as important as the like you do. Every tapped heart, every hovered thumb, contains a plethora of information.
So it’s up to us, anthropological documentarians like you and me, to try to make sense of it all. Is there any significance to the flaming emoji autoreply to a buy instagram views? No. The majority of the time, it is a result of a mishap. Does it matter if a new follower likes eight of your images in a row? Yes. What about the menacing re-follow from the individual who dumped you 14 months ago? Yes, of course. It’s all significant.
Here’s a general framework from which we may all try to build:
The ‘Horny Like’ is number one.
In when we are enamored with something because we are horny
I believe it is critical to know that the pumping blood in Instagram’s hard veins is the horny like. Everything is based on a horny attraction. Instagram floats in a swirling sea of horniness as the top flirting (and relationship-maintenance) site. You mf’ing horny like button, you move into the DMs, the DMs return the favor, and the cycle continues. Even admiring photographs of things we want—sneakers, tacos, Glossier products—makes us feel nervous. We become horny for something we like. Instagram is a photo-sharing software that allows you to like and share what you see. It goes without saying that horny like is a big part of it.
However, the basic horny like is only the first rung on the horny Instagram ladder. In the cold light of day, the horny like: that’s simply a modest confession of passing horniness. What do the horny enjoy as the sun sets and the sky goes from blue to black? Hormones that have lingered, horniness that has been passed down through the generations. At 12 a.m., a similar dings in? That might be a full-fledged dick- or tit-pic. The earth’s rotation, the tides, our circadian rhythms, the early morning horn, and late-night heavy breathing are all linked to horny desires. When we are inebriated, they multiply tremendously. They are the most authentic representation of ourselves.
The ‘Horny Unlike’ is number two.
In which we purposefully dislike a photo we enjoy because it makes us appear too horny.
And with that, the ballet begins. I am horny, said the horny like. I am simply too horny and want medical help, writes the horny like with too many likes in a row. As a result, the horny Instagram user must learn to provide but also restrain their horny likes in order to avoid arousing suspicion from the object of their horny wants and/or the authorities. In the shadow of a mirror, a delicate dance.
An amateur horny unlike maneuver is to delay a like from a photo for two or three days, then return to it and offer it a dismissive “oh, whatever, whatever” like. This should not be done. A horny unlike has to stay that way. With a horny unlike, you may roam about Instagram like a spy in a suit with an earpiece. It permits you to go undiscovered and unrestrained in your horniness. It’s a crucial tool for keeping you out of jail.
3. What Does a ‘Best Friend’ Look Like?
Because you are best friends, you like your pals’ pictures.
Without a doubt, I enjoy all of my best friends’ images. There are none at all. I’m thrilled to see him out and around doing things he enjoys. Bing–bing. My friend, have fun with your double-tap. I like it because I like you, therefore if you like it enough to post it online, I like it too. I’m delighted you’re doing well. I adore you with all of my heart and soul.
4. Likes of a ‘Friend’
The less obvious but nevertheless significant case in which you appreciate something because you’re pals with the person who posted it.
About six months ago, I discovered that likes mean absolutely fucking nothing, and there’s no reason not to throw them around like crazy. Why did it take me so long to do this? Simply put, I’m a moron. Do you realize that what you enjoy doesn’t matter? Do you realize there isn’t a central database of your preferences that could be tainted if you double-tap on too many memes? Do you realize how difficult it is to look through a list of all the photographs you’ve liked? How many menus have you gone through so far? Do you believe it makes a difference how much you curate what you double-tap and how much of it shows up in other people’s activity feeds? That’s not the case! Like the new tattoo on one of your pals! As if it were a photograph of their brunch! When they share their trip images, give them a dopamine boost by giving them a like! As if you were a dog! It’s like a family portrait! Like a photo of their father holding them as a child! A photo of their new front room set-up, for example! Like, like, like! We’re friends, just like that!
5. It’s weird unless your friend is wearing a bikini.
In which we consider but eventually decide against doing a friend-like that may be perceived in any way as a horny-like.
Apart from that, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes That’s advisable to avoid it unless you’re certain you have the kind of friendship that can withstand you drawing a thick red heart on a picture of them in swimwear. “”Just going for a morning swim” captions seldom mean “just going for a morning swim,” but rather “here’s a swimwear photo made in a lab and pre-approved by a WhatsApp group of hundreds to make the one person I’m DMing right now slam the like button.” “Don’t get yourself into a weird, gray, transitional zone where you mistakenly liked someone’s thirst trap and are now uninvited to their weekend birthday celebration. Be fucking clever.
6. ‘Supportive’ Attitude
In which we congratulate folks on their efforts.
What if someone is unwell and takes a sick selfie claiming to be severely congested? That is a reassuring like. Or how about a new job’s first day outfit? That is a reassuring like. Is that a pale arm spinning off into a far-off drip? That’s a S.L., by the way. Baked bread, but the bread appears to be garbage, yet you can tell they’ve put a lot of effort into the baking? Mf’ing supportive like button, mf’ing mf’ing mf’ing mf’ing You say, “I see you trying but not necessarily succeeding.” Take a look at this modest tiny like.
7. What a ‘Drunk’ Feels Like
Because we’ve had six pints and are struggling to stand up straight in a lavatory, we prefer things with a bit less discriminating eye.
On the bus home at 2 a.m., I do some of my finest liking: parties I’m not attending, people I don’t know, photos of people singing karaoke, cats, dogs, reptiles, countless photos of curry people have eaten, wedding flashback photos (me, 1 p.m., sober and clear-eyed: “You’ve been married before! Get rid of it!” “I love love!” I exclaim 12 hours later while drinking at a bus stop. I simply… love love!”), and photos of long-distance beaches with angry notes like “missing this today.” Simply put, you’re all getting a like. Don’t worry, I’m going to slam into some DMs like a Kool-Aid jug crashing through a wall.
8. The ‘Celebrity’ Appearance
In which we ponder why we are the 432,757th like of the day on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram.
I often wonder why I’m doing this, as I obliterate the like button on the next Charli XCX upload. Despite the fact that Charli XCX will not notice, I continue to do it despite the futility of the exercise. “Joel,” she says, in that voice, in a fictitious scenario in which she creeps softly into my “Other” mailbox. “It’s good to see you liking two out of every three of my Instagram posts. That’s the right number of likes for me to know you’re there without thinking you’re deliberately attempting to gain my attention. I give it a big thumbs up. ” We fall in love right away (she insists on forcing me to wear transparent crop tops for some reason, but whatever, I don’t care) and I move into a house she’s bought in LA, complete with balcony and luxury dressing gowns. I hiss into the hazy setting light, “Thank you, Instagram.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” But instead, instead you find yourself standing in front of a celebrity Instagram post with thousands of comments and millions of likes, and you think to yourself, “I am an ant.” An inconsequential ant. They have no idea whether I am living or dead. You push that like button with a sickly little clunk of self-loathing, don’t you? Don’t you think so? Instagram is a complicated app, isn’t it? Some strange tiny feelings have risen to the surface, ah?
9. What Does ‘Duty’ Look Like?
Because your boyfriend or girlfriend is your boyfriend or girlfriend, you enjoy their Instagram post.
I observed that Jack Fincham from last season’s program virtually remarked the same thing on every one of his new girlfriend Dani Dyer’s Instagram accounts as soon as they both decompressed from the immediate bombardment post-Love Island news cycle, and that was simply the word: “Sort.” Sort of Dani in a bikini. Dani is announcing the launch of a new Boohoo range called kind. Dani at the Specsavers Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards: sort, sort, sort, glasses-face emoji, and banter in the comments area with Eyal
In actual life, though, you are less likely to do so. If you see someone naked more than twice a week, you are required to like all of their Instagram posts: sorry, but it is the law. The sooner the file is uploaded, the better. There is politics without the double-tap (“Why didn’t you like my Instagram photo, then?”). There’s difficulty in paradise without that double-tap. The heart button is pressed. You’ve been together for two years and the sex has started to fade, but you still go to brunch together every Saturday and their parents invited you on vacation this year, so you’re pretty much set: hit the like button. A photo of a newly rearranged bedroom, a photo of a swipe-card pass for a meeting at a company that was cooler than theirs, and a hazy photo of a dog fleeing away: It makes no difference what the trash is. Because that’s your fucking job, you slam it with a duty like.
10. Like a ‘Baby’
In which we acknowledge that some of our friends are content in a different way than we are.
I’d have to like you if you had a baby, which I don’t want to do. Obviously, you’re pleased with your child, but it resembles a mound of pizza dough wrapped in a towel. I get that a primordial lizard-brain part of you is over over heels in love with this, but it makes me uneasy. I’ve seen your ultrasound, the advancement of your pregnancy, the baby shower I wasn’t invited to, and the three weeks leading up to the birth when you went quiet online. I’ve been clicking for months now. I can now see the baby. Okay, have your fucking like. I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world for the rest of your lives! From now till the end of time, I shall enjoy every update on their progress!
11. The ‘It’s a Good Outfit’
In which we prefer someone’s clothes to their whole appearance.
I’d say I’m happy with the outfit I put together maybe one out of every 40 mornings, but you can bet you’ll see a fitpic on Instagram if I’ve managed to put pants, a T-shirt, and a jacket together in a coherent fashion. This is multiplied by three if I follow you on Instagram: Is it time for a new padded winter jacket? A big thumbs up and a question about where you got it. On a drizzly overground train platform, wearing brand new sneakers? You get a like, you get a like, and you get a big booty like. When someone posts an outfit selfie, they’re not saying, “Here are the clothes I paid for, and they’re great.” They’re saying things like, “I’m fucking feeling myself today.” For myself, I feel electrified with lustful energy. Fuck me, I’m all messed up. They even earn some likes for their efforts.
The ‘Like-the-Caption’ System
In which we enjoy the text even if the photo isn’t exactly what we’re looking for.
You receive a like before I’ve even examined the photo if the description makes me giggle. Somehow, I read faster than I see. This has previously caught me off guard—I once clicked “I had to DM them and say “sorry that ‘like’ was probably inappropriate, v. shaky on the rules re: rescinding it now, i.e. would that make the crying better or worse” because it turned out the picture was a crying selfie and the whole thing was a documentation of a long-ignored-by-me mental downward spiral, and I had to say “sorry that ‘like’ was probably inappropriate, v.
13. The ‘We Used to Have Sex and Now We Don’t, So I Do a Very Carefully Curated One-in-Three of Your Pictures Like So You Know We’re Still Friends But Not in a Horny Way’ Like
In which we frolic gleefully through a minefield
Although I believe this one speaks for itself, you still get a heated, strange sweat when you click “like” on it, don’t you?
14. Like the ‘Reciprocal’
In this case, you pay the piper with’more pipe.’
When I read this back, it makes me sound like I “hammer the L” (a cool new way of saying “hit the like button”) on every Instagram image I see, which is largely incorrect. That said, don’t you have about eight to twelve folks in your notifications folder who hit like on everything you do? When you were trying to respond to a DM they sent you, you mistakenly followed them back.
Because they respond to every tale you publish with the cry-laugh emoji, it’s too embarrassing to disengage now. Are you… acquaintances? You and I aren’t pals. But you see them in your feed and remember that time they liked 32 of your photos in a row, and the activity caused your phone to overheat to the point where you had to ask the staff at the fast food restaurant you were at if they could plug it in behind the counter, and you “bong on the hearty” begrudgingly and without any joy (another fun new way I invented). You’re a slug. You’re a helpless slug.
The fifteenth “Pass-agg’
In this video, we make a point.
There are two distinct types of pass-agg: I. you took a photo of your friend that they end up posting on Instagram and getting a lot of likes on, and you feel like you’re owed a certain ethereal vig for it, so you click the like button and comment “nice photo!!!!! who took it???” as well as sending them a fun-and-cheery-but-actually-quite-dark-and-sharp-edged text about it until they fold and edit their caption to credit you, and And they’ll find out. They’ll recognize you by the trail you leave behind.
16. Likes of ‘Liking a Photo of a Party You Missed’
In which we flip the like’s antagonism directly above us.
When you turn 25, you start canceling arrangements on the same day 900 percent more than you have in the past. This party you were supposed to go to—birthday—is someone’s too far away, and the same pals they always have at every party are fucking nerds, and you always wind up talking to that fucking nerd, and you’ve met them seven or eight times already and have no idea what their name is. But here they are, sidling up with a pint and asking you how work is; it’s fucking Saturday, dude, don’t ask me about work—anyway, you bailed on this one because you couldn’t be bothered, plus it was looking like it was going to start raining, and they all upload the same photo anyway (a nerd move, frankly), and you like them all in turn and even go so far as to comment “sad to miss it: Are you, you terrible little worm, and your duvet and the entire box of Chocolate Weetos you strangely ate in bed, sad to miss it munch all?
17. What Does ‘Daddy Hungry’ Look Like?
In which we just appreciate an image of food because we are hungry.
I’ve previously been so hungry in my life that I’ve liked a Buzzfeed Tasty video, and if you’ve ever seen one of those—always it’s someone fuckmicrowaving a dish of cheese until it’s roughly melted, then mashing marshmallows into the top, slicing the resultant wad like a pie—that should tell you everything about the sanity of the hungry mind on Instagram, i.e. it’s not
18. What Does ‘Jealousy’ Feel Like?
In which we should most likely reconsider our lifestyles and behaviors TBH
This is the scenario: You’ve just started talking to someone, and you’re in that razor-sharp heightened-senses zone where everything they do or don’t do to you is interpreted as some sort of grand you-focused gesture—not texting back for an hour is the world’s greatest par, going out for drinks with friends when you know it’s far too early to start inviting you to that sort of thing is seen as a snub, them literally commenting on other people’s photos makes you Don’t do it—it’ll send you into a state of psychosis. But I’m only stating the possibility.
19. ‘I see you haven’t responded to my text, but you’ve uploaded on Instagram,’
In which we get to the center of human contact, which is dark and treacle-sticky.
It’s strange that Instagram began as a fun way to document our cats, vacations, meals in and out, and every time we went to a football stadium or a pop concert; and then it morphed, almost imperceptibly, in front of our eyes, to hyper-airbrushed #sponcon models and specially chosen pink-pastille palettes; the perplexing idea of The Curated Grid; and everyone making it look like they’re leading a better life than they are, then One of my earliest Instagram pictures was a cut-out postcard of Princess Diana balancing nimbly over some topless women in a copy of Bizarre, laid on the oat-colored carpet in my first London apartment and snapped with—instead of a camera—the glass end of a broken lamp, according to the picture quality. And then, roughly two years ago, I archived it for unclear reasons. and only put up the best, most hand-curated photos of myself (again, for reasons unknown????? ), and became addicted to the dopamine drip-spike-drip loop that comes with getting an Instagram like. And what exactly does an Instagram like imply these days? Is it a way of saying “I like this”? Is this something I’d like to eat? Is it possible for me to fuck it? I’m enraged by it? Is there anything else you’d like to invite me to? Do you want to text me some more? Are you willing to be my friend? Are you one of my friends? It’s 1 a.m., and I’m both inebriated and really horny? While scrolling, I accidently tapped this twice?