Quest for Likes Drives Instagram Insanity

“It takes me about an hour to do an Insta. I have to edit it, then go through my edits, and then I text them to my friend, who then picks out her favorite one because I want a second opinion. And then we’ll talk about captions because captions make the Insta.”

This is sophomore Bridget Mitchell’s Instagram-posting process. It’s no minor operation.

Back in 2010, in a dimly lit basement in San Francisco, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger invented the photo-sharing, and now video-sharing social media app. A matter of hours after the app’s release, there were already thousands of downloads. From 25,000 users in the first day, to 300,000 in three weeks, to millions in months, the success of Instagram was almost instantaneous. Three years later, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. Instagram isn’t just taking over Shaker, it’s taking over the world.

Instagram is all about sharing photos and videos. A key feature is the ability to apply a variety of filters to a selected photo or video. These filters range from black and white to an orangey tinge. Socially, the app allows the user to interact with friends by commenting and liking photos and videos.

That interaction is the root of the Instagram obsession. “I think everyone is a little Insta obsessed because it’s a way to communicate and connect,” senior Maggie Nace said. “I think it’s harmless.”

As Instagram’s popularity increases, the stress for the perfect photo heightens, according to Shaker students. “When I know I’m going somewhere where I can take a good picture a few days in advance, I won’t post because I know that day I’ll post. I’ll purposely wear something that looks good so my Instagram looks good,” Mitchell said.

Then comes the wait for likes. “I used to get really anxious, but now I don’t get as anxious because I know I’ll probably get a lot of likes on it,” Mitchell said. She averages more than 100 likes per Insta, and her most-liked photo has 166 likes.

Senior Gyasi Calhoun obsesses over likes “up to the point where if I don’t get 11 likes before 10 minutes I’ll delete my photo.”

What earns a photo likes? “I think it has to do with your wardrobe and how everything corresponds with a picture. Sometimes even why your posting,” said junior Mariah Howard, whose most-liked picture has accumulated 286 likes. She noted that birthday and game-day Instagrams are popular. For some girls posting photos, “The less clothing the more likes,” Howard said.

A hugely popular type of Instagram is the “selfie, ” an Instagram self-portrait. “I’m not a selfie fanatic, but I do post selfies,” Howard said.

According to a poll posted on to which 49 people responded, 47 percent claimed to have posted a selfie.

Nace said she likes when her eyes look really blue in hers. Then she said, “I’ll put a lyric from either a popular song or a song I really like. It usually doesn’t have to do with the selfie.”

The time spent creating an Insta-worthy photo is a more feminine, than masculine quality, according to Mitchell. “I think that girls are a lot more Insta obsessed because it reflects on them and shows their social side. You want to Insta pictures of you being social so you seem social,” she said. She thinks that boys just don’t care as much.

While Instagram may be entertaining, it can take up valuable time. “I definitely check Instagram a few more times than I should,” Nace said. “I try not to look at it in class, but I’ll admit that I do. I could definitely be listening or doing work instead.”


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