Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Carly's Instagram Addiction"

"Carly's Instagram Addiction" 

Carly was a tiny girl from a suburban neighborhood near Los Angeles. She was single and rarely had to buy her own dinner or drinks at the bars she frequented; she was able to get by on her good looks. Her thick blonde hair, tanned skin, and toned body made her a hit with the male (and, occasionally, female) population, even if she was a bit of a California clich√©. 
One might think she was a typically brainless California girl, but the opposite was in fact true - she was studying for her Ph.D. in Child Psychology at UCLA and was in fact near the top of her class. Her circle of friends was of healthy size, but it wasn't as large as it could be due to Carly preferring to associate herself with people she could relate with on a personal level. 
Also, most people found her Instagram addiction annoying. 

She posted pictures, on average, seven times a day. Sometimes she was busy with school-work or her part-time job at Panera Bread and only got to upload a picture or two, but she always found time to post SOMETHING. If the weather was particular fine that day, she would post a picture of the sky or maybe a selfie with the sun shining behind her. She found she preferred X-Pro II for nature pics and earlybird for selfies. Sometimes she would go crazy and use a Brannan or Walden, but that was rare. She'd hate to throw off her followers. 

If she had a lot of homework, her Instagram followers would see the cover of a textbook or her homework papers strewn about to convey the message that she had so much to do that she couldn't help but throw her stuff EVERYWHERE even though everyone knew she had placed each and every sheet of paper deliberately, methodically. 
That's just the way things worked. Everyone did it. 

If work was going particular badly, she might post a selfie in her Panera hat doing a thumbs-down and a sad face. If work was going well, it'd be a thumbs up. Occasionally, she'd post a picture of a particularly delicious-looking piece of bread or maybe a customer that particular stuck out (she had even snuck a picture of one guy that had been at her register and made him her #ManCandyMonday). She couldn't do it when her boss was around - she might get in trouble for cell phone use. The rules were a bit of a drag. Some of her co-workers had noticed her constantly taking pictures and updating Instagram and had joked around with her, saying things like "I don't get why you have to post pictures online all the time! Nothing's that interesting!" and "I don't think you could go a day without using Insta." 
No, she didn't think she could. 

Her followers wavered somewhat, and it bothered her. She noticed she didn't get as many likes on pictures of books as she did on, say, pictures from her trips to the ocean (posted sparingly, of course). Cats got more likes on Fridays than Sundays. Dogs got more likes on Mondays than Thursdays. Selfies tended to earn her enough likes if she could get in the right light and pick the perfect filter; quotes screenshot from Tumblr did well enough if hash-tagged. She didn't actually use Tumblr, she just got those pictures from Google Images. 
Coffee was a bit of a wild-horse: it could yield varying amounts of likes. Some (including Carly) thought it was old hat; only those BEGGING for likes and comments posted coffee, and she was above that. However, cups of coffee from Starbucks earned more likes than any other coffeeshop, but that was common knowledge. If taken well enough, coffee pics could provide, on average, 2-4 new followers, but was it really worth it? Those followers would be expecting the same pics that everyone else posted and Carly was too good at the art of Insta for that. She had too much style. 

She hoped to reach a thousand followers, because more followers = more likes. It's simple mathematics. For every twenty followers, she could count on a like, maybe two. Not a whole lot, but it works out okay. A picture posted by Carly that ended up getting less than 20 likes was promptly deleted. Her follower count was sometimes 981, sometimes it was 989. One time it was 976 and she almost died! The only time she had been this embarrassed was when she had accidentally confused #TransformationTuesday and #ThrowbackThursday. 
She laid down on her bed in her dorm and didn't come out until her roommate made her. She knew she had been ridiculous, but she couldn't help it. 

A few times, friends had even tried talking to her about her addiction, but it did no good - Instagram took up too much of Carly's life, as it did her friends'. They could tell her the dangers of addiction all they wanted, but it would be hypocritical - they obsessed over filters and follower count just like their friend did. 

These pitiful little interventions of sorts were usually followed by a group selfie, which was okay. Group selfies of pretty girls get a lot of likes - it's a fact of life.

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