By SARAH CHANDLER
Every Instagram like is unique and special, like a snowflake. They each have a different meaning, generate a different emotional response, correspond to a different level of social validation or, paradoxically, social tension. It’s a dilemma we all face: How do we respond to an Instagram like on a selfie versus on a picture of our dinner? A like from our aunt versus a like from our crush? A like in the first four seconds after posting versus a like two weeks later? Here is a guide to the possible meanings of a few common scenarios.
That Girl Who Was a Bitch to You on the Freshman Tennis Team Liked Your Photo the Second You Posted It
Probably an irony like. One of the most lethal weapons in any young socialite’s arsenal. Was this wench just browsing Instagram at the exact moment you happened to post a picture of your latte? Not likely. No, she probably sat there refreshing your profile for six hours straight, just so that she could like your photo with unnerving speed and send you spiraling into existential angst. Should you unfollow her? Not advised, because then she wins. You should probably take to Twitter to hash this one out.
The Kind of Nerdy Guy You Sat Next to Once at a High School Assembly Just Liked a 168-Week-Old Selfie
You might get murdered in your sleep tonight, tbh. Or worse, he might Poke you on Facebook. It’s possible he liked it on accident, but what was he doing down there? You might want to delete your address and blood type from your bio. But keep the sunglasses emoji.
Your Hookup Just Liked a Photo but Didn’t Follow You
Didn’t think digital realities could get this complicated? You haven’t seen anything yet. There are at least two dimensions of complexity to this situation. First of all, there’s the fact that he liked your photo without following you. Is this a metaphor for your relationship? Or did he just forget to follow you? You know he’s been looking at your profile. Why wouldn’t he follow you? There’s probably something horribly wrong with you. This could be another irony like, or worse, a pity like. As if you were trying to raise awareness for a debilitating illness or something. Blech.
A second level of complexity arises because it’s a hookup, which means that depending on what you want out of him, the like could stand for clinginess or the lack of a follow could stand for aloofness. Whether or not you’re into him, you should follow him but not like any of his pictures. This will make him wonder whether his Instagram conduct was appropriate, and he’ll begin to think of you as a genuine human being with nuanced thoughts, perspectives and online practices, someone he should respect. And this respect can of course be exploited to further whatever your ends may be.
You Posted Three Photos in a Row but Your Sort-Of Friend from High School Only Liked the First and Third Ones
Oh, she’s definitely trying to say something. You should probably edit one of your captions to sheepishly apologize for the amount you’ve been posting today. Or just delete the photo with the least likes and save it for a #throwbackthursday. Your hair looks like shit in that picture anyway.