I’m not sure what was worse: him Googling his own name on my laptop and seeing it
auto-complete, or his ex-girlfriend potentially catching my double-tap Instagram notification
before I deleted it.
If I’m honest, it was the latter that had me wishing I’d be hit by a sudden passing
We have reached a point in our depraved and muddled society where it’s pretty
much considered civilized—nay, smart—to exploit Google’s background-checking
capabilities in the pre-dating phase. Oh hey, guy, you want to give me your full name,
phone number, and email address? Gracias. Of course I’m going to hunt down your
college, business ventures, and three most recent girlfriends. You think you’re being
stealthy by holding back on the full name? Buddy, I only need the name your
mother picked for you and what you ate for dinner to track down your social
We can accept that we’re on the same page—yes?
Instagram stalking, however, is something of a fresher phenomenon, with new and
innovative tactics revealing themselves on the regular. (Let’s call it “hunting,” by the
way, because that’s funner and less creepy.) The art of the Instagram hunt has just
left its infancy and entered toddlerhood. We all know how it’s done and we all do it,
with varying degrees of excellence.
But are we all ready to wholeheartedly admit it? Nope.
Therefore, what we’re dealing with here is the perfect formula for social
embarrassment. We all know how it works: It’s like connect the dots, only the dots
are likers, commenters and followers. Let’s talk about some of the Insta-crimes that
none of want to commit:
1) Double-tapping the guy you’re into
You know how you went into that thing with that guy thinking you were going to do
it differently this time? Screw social media, you said—your grand plans
involved taking it back to the old school and getting to know each other by talking to
each other across a table with food and vodka on it. Well, you just blew it. He knows
that you know that he was playing volleyball in Venice last weekend, so you
officially have nothing left to discuss. Because of that “like,” he knows you like him, and he knows you’re a
stalker—which is no big deal, because so is he, assuming he’s human—but the
mystery is dashed and you may as well steal a new identity.
Next-level problem: double-tapping a six-month-old photo of said guy. You
may as well tattoo “Hi, I’m obsessed with you” on one cheek and “I have no life” on
the other. Curl up in a fetal position as you imagine him imagining you studying his
entire Insta-life like you’re about to take an exam on it. There’s no saving this sinking ship.
2) Double-tapping the guy you like but have not yet met in real life
You seriously screwed up. Gone are the chances of an oh-so-coincidental encounter
in the hallway at work, where you catch each other’s eye and see a vision of your
future together, with a blissful first date naturally evolving from that. Now he knows
he’s hunted. This can be overcome, however. Maybe you needed an ice-breaker
anyway. But you’d better be damn sure you’re into him, because if it was just a
curiosity double-tap, you’ve started something you’ll have a hard time getting out
of without being impolite.
You’d also better be sure he’s single and straight. Otherwise… awkward.
3) Double-tapping the current or ex-girlfriend of the guy you like
Social suicide. Sorry, there’s no other way to put it. You’d better believe that she’s
just as Insta-savvy as you, and will be tracing the identity of the random new “like”
on her selfie as soon as she spots it. Unless she was born two centuries ago, you’ve
got somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds before she figures out that you’ve got a
curious interest in her current beau or ex-boyfriend. Don’t think she won’t figure out that
you’ve found her profile by clicking on an old snap of said guy, locating the cutie who left a heart symbol and delving right into her pictorial wonderland.
This is a surefire and embarrassing way of finding out that the guy you’re into is definitely taken.
There’s no recourse for you here. At best, she’ll alert the guy in question to the fact
that you’re a freak. But you can find refuge in this: She’ll understand, because she does the same thing… and she’s probably looked at your selfies.
4) Double-tapping the hottest personal trainer at your gym
It’s not our fault that physically blessed humans who do sit-ups for a living are super
dedicated to Instagram. They leave their profile public and hashtag #gymlyfe for the
same reason that murderers leave their sweaters behind: They want to be found. If
you go to a gym, there’s guaranteed to be at least one hottie working the floors.
That’s fine, it’s impetus to brush your teeth in the morning before hitting the
weights. And there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly out-of-hours snooping
around said personal trainer’s pictorial wonderland… but this is why the Instagram
app should never be accessed on an intoxicated night out. Similarly, it should never
be handed to a shaky-handed friend who is dying to see what this guy looks like. If a
double-tap happens accidentally or on purpose, you’ve officially made your
upcoming gym visits an awkward nightmare.
5) Double-tapping your ex
Similar to the embarrassment caused by double-tapping a guy you like, only the
repercussions are such that your ex has license to think he’s your one and only and
that you’re going to be hung up on him for eternity—even though you were only
trying to see whether he’s doing a better job than you in the “moving on” competition.
6) Double-tapping yourself
Must I explain this? Nobody likes a narcissist. Unless you’re liking your own photo of
an overly adorable puppy, don’t try it at home.
Anyway, these are all modern-day, first-world problems. It’s the Ebola of the Internet and an X-
ray vision of our pervy minds. Just like picking your nose, it’s best to be aware of the
fact that we’re all guilty of it; we’re just not all honest about it. And guess what, my
happy hunters? Even when you “unlike,” your “like” notification will remain in their
drag-down notification center until the end of time. You’re welcome.
Illustration by Jason Reed