The following is a dramatic reenactment of what took place Monday, March 28 after a rumor started that Tuesday, March 29 would be The Day of the Instagram Update.


If you didn’t look at Instagram all day, good for you and here’s the gist: On March 15, Instagram announced that it was changing its algorithm so that your feed would no longer appear in chronological order. They intend to instead show you stuff that they believe you care about most based off who your best friends are and the types of posts you already interact with/respond to. How does it know? The same way you know that your upcoming Bumble date has a sister — not a girlfriend! — who studied abroad in Thailand five years ago. By stalking.*

*Unconfirmed by Instagram corporate/didn’t ask.

Then, on March 28 (or possibly March 27), a rumor began. The Instagram update was coming.


March 29 would be the day of doom, where one could no longer consume memes in an orderly fashion. Meanwhile, meme-posters (or just regular users trying to get double-digit likes on selfies) started realizing that they better get on the campaign trail to stay relevant. Enter an onslaught of pleads to “turn on notifications” (so that you don’t miss a single post!).

Everyone started seeing everyone do it so they started doing it, too. This is called mass hysteria.


You are freaking out, man.


Instagram even confirmed that nothing was happening.



I suppose it’s the “yet” that still has everyone freaking the hell out. This is the social media equivalent of a potential snowstorm threat that sends people rushing to supermarkets to hoard cans of tuna and bottled water despite blue skies and no clouds.

Remember the last time the Stalk Market crashed? Everyone — even those with botty Ponzi Schemes — recovered. But yesterday’s flip out has shed further light on the fact that “likes” have moved past their status as our social currency; “likes” have become our sustenance. Online validation has become our food.

For brands, the concept that an algorithm could mess with feeding hour is scary: What if people can’t see my content? How am I supposed to connect with my audience/get eyes on site/continue to send out our message? You guys, we have considered this, too.

For personal accounts, it triggers popularity contest PTSD. Posting a photo with high potential for no one to see (let alone like) is worse than no one showing up to your birthday party. At least the excuse there is that no one really goes on Facebook anymore, so it truly is possible they missed the notification.

…Ah-ha! Did anyone else just feel a sense of relief?

Yes, this new and as-of-yet-unimplemented algorithm could have detrimental effects on our various levels of vanity. Yes, it could hurt user engagement with brands.

But if it gets you off the hook for not “liking” your girlfriend’s roommate’s floral arrangement with the hashtag #springhassprung or your best friend’s new hair cut because you didn’t see it — well, to me that sounds like bliss.

Let’s not forget that part of the fun of Instagram is being a little bit sneaky.

No? Yes? Zzzzzzzz??? Comment below. No algorithm there.

Collage by Emily Zirimis.


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  • shauna

    Hahaha! Such a good account of the sh*tshow that was Instagram this weekend. I haven’t seen so many desperate people online since my stint trying Plenty of Fish in Brooklyn in 2011.

    • Aydan

      RIGHT?! I love insta, its my fave social media, but the hysteria turned me off quite a bit!!

      • Lauren Stephenson

        When I looked at the draft of 6895 dollars, I have faith that brother of my friend was like really generating cash in his free time with his PC..yi His aunt’s neighbor has done this for only 11 months and by now repaid the loan on their home and bought a new Car.

        For Details Click Here

  • Melina Dania Salem

    Oh my god thank you so much for this. Sorry, I’m not setting up notifications so that I can see your selfies and avo toast pics 24/7. Bye.

  • Rosie

    Everyone was freaking out and posting that “Turn on Notifications” picture, so I made the ROOKIE MISTAKE of just going ahead and turning on notifications for (almost) everyone that I follow. SUCH a bad idea. My phone was literally exploding with “@soandso posted a picture. @soandso posted a picture. @soandso posted a picture.” So then I just had to turn off my notifications entirely. #firstworldproblems I know, but it was v annoying. I shouldn’t have fallen for the hype!!! #dazed #confused #help

  • dk

    I generally don’t like changes, when it comes to my social media. I am more of a stalker and less of a poster on Instagram. I follow almost exclusively brands/blogs/museums/magazines and not people that I know (see point: stalker). I have spend enough time curating my own Instagram feed. I check regularly whom I follow and unfollow if needed. Therefore I kinda still want to see all the posting and let myself choose whether to like or not.
    I hope that Instagram implement an option of “choose old way of showing feed”. I’m not against trying the new algorithm, but I would like to have the option to go to the “old” view if possible.

    • Aggie

      I very much agree with you, in January I ‘cleansed’ my Instagram feed and it felt much better to not have to see stuff I got fed up with but then can a robot really understand what I like or don’t like? It’s almost like a propaganda theme, you’re literally told what to see and what not to see. It completely defeats the point of social media which was originally content brought up to us by other individuals who you chose to follow.

  • Victoria Chiu

    The entire “TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS NOW AISHASNLKSNLKSD” debacle has been simultaneously kind of sad and so, so, SO funny to witness these last few days.

  • Amelia your use of gifs to tell a story is inspiring.

  • I always enjoy your use of pictures of rodents

  • The number of posts in my feed asking to turn on notifications the past few days has been bonkers! I get that a lot of social media is as much about receiving likes/comments/validation as it is about sharing content now, but I found myself getting seriously turned off by people followers to turn on notifications. I guess I KNOW people/brands/blogs want user interactions, but I just don’t like it being pointed out to me so blatantly?
    I also wonder what effect this algorithm will have on small instashops and personalities who currently make money off Instagram promotions.

  • Haha that collage is absolutely perfect, it made me laugh out loud for real! The post is funny too – you’re so right, Amelia! Terri x

  • Shevaun

    It might just be me (probably) but isn’t social media kind of a joke at this point? Wasn’t it falling off the radar? Weren’t people sick of it? Or is it just me? I hadn’t had Facebook for 3 years while I was out of university, but when I went back for my Master’s LITERALLY everyone had it, which surprised the hell out of me. I thought only mom’s and grandparents were using it, but nope apparently all the 20-somethings were also still on there. I found that after a while Instagram had reached the same point as Facebook and Twitter, where it is just the same shit all the time, and it’s more of a marketing/advertising platform or a place for all your friends to post pictures of their babies now.

    Without Instagram/Facebook/Twitter I feel so much more focused and happy, because I’m not wasting time scrolling and seeing people’s constructed photos and going “Ohhh I want these shoes” etc. And seriously, no one ever sounds happy about having it. When I bring up deactivating my Facebook, I hear from friends “Yeah, I hate having it and always mean to get rid of it…”, but they never do?

    Fully realize I sound like an asshole right now. I just wanted to ask if anyone genuinely enjoys having these accounts.

    • I’m 27 and pretty active on Facebook. I don’t feel any shame about bragging about my workouts and hiking trips. There’s about a dozen people who seem interested, and those who aren’t don’t have to follow.

      My first cousin in Poland added me on Facebook this week. He was born in America 18 years ago, but I haven’t seen him since he was five. I had no idea what he looked like and it was incredibly jarring to recognize a younger version of my uncle. It’s easy to say “oh well this isn’t real, you should develop a real connection in person,” but nobody in my family in either country has the money to travel to see each other.

      • Shevaun

        I’m also 27. My mom and dad have used Facebook to connect to lots of their relatives overseas as well, which I think is a good way to use it (they also aren’t able to travel). I used to stay connected to my friends via Twitter when we lived apart, but now we use Chat applications like Whatsapp, which is a better way for us.

        I think one of my problems is with the overall design of these applications. They’ve been improving it recently (where you can be ‘friends’ with someone on FB, but don’t have to follow them), but I feel like it is really easy to get bogged down or overloaded by the information on the page, even if that’s not necessarily information you’re interested in. For instance, the sidebar “Trending news” box on FB drives me crazy, because it is mostly click-bait stuff that isn’t always valuable, and yet there is no way to customize or remove it. Your eyes automatically go there too, because that’s the general area where notifications show. From a usability standpoint, that’s frustrating.

        I guess it depend on how people utilize the platform, and I just don’t like using them overall. You’re obviously getting something out of it that I’m not.

        Sidebar: Every time I visit my parents now, they’re on their phones on Facebook 100% and I have to threaten them with “No phones at the dinner table” rules. I HAVE BECOME THE ADULT.

        • Shakia

          Social media is a trap. It sucks you in and only the strong can step away from It. It does have very good strong points, but most people do not use it for that. I used Facebook and Myspace, because no one deserves to see the food I’m eating but my eyes and tummy lol. But seriously, now that I’m off it and a thousand times less stressed because of it, I see no reason to go back. I found this website from Google. Ah, the good ole ways still work.

          • Shakia

            And I’m 25, since age is relevant to social media now???

          • Shevaun

            Oh the age was just because in my first comment I had said I thought only older people still used FB, but then someone replied saying they’re in their 20’s and active. I think younger people tend to be more active on social media in general than older people, although it obviously changes according to what platform you’re using. Instagram, being a photo-based platform, I think is used more by younger people, whereas FB which is a communications platform is used by all (apparently!).

            But yes, I am also less stressed as a result of not having so much social media. I also feel like I waste less time, and since I’m a student that’s important, because procrastination is an issue. I monitor my internet usage pretty closely now and I’m not constantly picking up my phone to check Instagram or Twitter. For me, it’s better to have nothing.

  • soniadelvalle

    This whole algorithm thing freaks me out a bit. But only a bit. In my very particular case, I use instagram less now, sometimes going a month without posting anything and days without checking my feed. I follow my close friends and a hella bunch of blogs but I only like very few posts.
    So here’s the thing: if the algorithm is gonna show me stuff it thinks I’ll like based on what I already like… then am I only gonna get the same type of content every single time? SO, the unexpected or the kinda weird stuff, or the I had never ever seen anything like it but I think I love it will be gone? This is what I don’t like about the new social media. This recycling, repetition and saturation of the same damn thing over and over.


  • Chetna Singh

    Thank you for the post. I hadn’t resorted to the signage about the notification and was second guessing myself. Small businesses like mine will be affected if this does happen and hopefully Instagram will not fix something that is not broken.

  • I’m just tired of social networks deciding what they want to do with the app. Did millions of people request this change and I just missed it? How about they make it optional and since it’s my account, I decide what I’d rather see, whether most popular or most recent? I thought I had already made those choices by choosing which accounts I follow… but I guess not. Womp womp.

  • Olivia Irene

    My feed updated to the new algorithm over 24 hours ago, and I hate it–but it’s not that bad. And especially not terrible enough for me to willingly sign up for 1000 notifications on my phone everytime one of the 602 people I follow on instragram posts something. No thanks, smoothie bowls and sunset pics. I can miss a few of you without losing my mind.

  • Pamela

    My only concern is that I usually forget to like my favourite photos. It is weird, I know, and I do like some of the stuff I see on Instagram I just don’t feel the need to tap twice. Does anyone know if now I won’t be able to see my favourite accounts on my feed?? I also don’t remember the name of most of them to search them :S :S :S
    btw many people have asked about me no liking any of their photos, someone even called me a “ghost follower”. I still don’t understand.

  • For a moment I got like that Ahhh now I’ll never gonna make it in fashion! then I acted CoOl. After that I saw pics with “TURN ME ON” with A small arrow that I didn’t see in the first glimpse, I was like wt… Crazy!


  • Sacha D

    I can tell you that from a business Instagram profile point of view, that algorithm is my worst nightmare.
    I am a social media manager for my mother’s high fashion boutique and all of our clients are “stalkers”, they see the pictures appear on their feed but don’t like it & then step into the store the next day with their phone in hand showing the unliked picture because they want the outfit.. aka once the algorithm will start to work, we will disappear into the bottom of someone’s feed.

    So yeahhhhhhh pretty scary.

    • Mai

      It’s likely Instagram will consider factors beyond just likes eg how long you ‘hover’ over a picture, which will help you. Try not to worry.

  • Camilla

    Excellent use of gifs and yes was secretly and v quietly excited that the change would be made so I could more innocently be the worst friend around

  • Bloom a glow

    as much as I love my instapics, there is no way I’m turning on notifications

  • ✩ Lana Banana ✩

    people get hysterical over nothing. breathe. just breath.

  • I think that the algorithm will change, but we’ll still see big accounts posts, because they are the only ones with whom we interact so far… They spam me so much that I can’t make it to see my friends posts!! Nevertheless, I don’t really care… I love what influencers are doing on this network.

    Bests!! More info about my opinion on the topic here

  • Nice post. Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a very interesting post on the new Instagram update and why it isn’t such a big deal.


  • pamb

    I guess I don’t follow many people/brands that freaked out; only saw it once or twice and wondered what was going on.

    Because I’m Old, I still check Facebook more than Instagram, and I HATE FB’s wonky algorithm. I’ve got a post from 20 minutes ago next to a post from yesterday followed by a post from an hour ago then a post from yesterday and then one from 10 hours ago. What sense does that make?

    I can like something without ‘liking’ it. I don’t want to get a million notifications that someone has posted something; I want to see it appear in my feed in chronological order.

    I’ll get over it, but I’ll hate it.

  • Arzu Dylus

    Amelia,… Thanks for opening eyes! ?
    Why the crap they always wants to change everything what already works well?? And why the crap, they don’t let me decide what I want to see!? It’s annoying! Welcome back in the Matrix!!

  • Susana

    I’m actually thankful for the sh*t show!! I’d been receiving daily post notifications from one specific account for about 2 months and had ZERO idea what that was about. So that’s solved now…

    (I also learned I never want to turn on notifications!! It’s a horrible, horrible thing to be told to check Instagram to see a picture. Just horrible.)

  • Erin Dear

    I didn’t believe Y2K was going to happen (the rebooting of all computers, or whatever) not the Year Two Thousand happening (spoiler: it did). And I sure as hell wasn’t going to believe this… it was like chain mail gone global. Whom ever that troll was that started this, bravo!

  • I use facebook for everybody because you basically can ignore whoever you want to but still remain “friends” with them. Instagram I mainly follow designers/blogs I like because it’s one giant inspiration board. It’s annoying to follow basic baes who post shitty food pics to show how drunk they are and have them ruin your feed of perfectly curated macaron snaps.

    For instagram and twitter, I feel like form should follow function–the feed feels inherently a chronological thing to me, and I don’t like that they’re making it otherwise. Instagram and Twitter are most used on mobile devices, making the swiping motion particularly conducive to the flow of feeds. Facebook can be anachronistic because visiting other people’s pages is still a part of the user experience. How often do you visit someone’s page specifically when you’re on instagram? You’re mainly just swiping through the feed! Given the format, you’re much more likely to miss something and not even know it because you’re less likely to visit their profiles on a whim.

    Which I guess Instagram would then argue–exactly! You never wanted to see it, so we didn’t show you! But isn’t that how we because insular and stagnant? When we only look at the stuff that we think we like?

  • Felicia

    And it’s accounts with 200k followers who are asking to turn on notifications. Girl, your audience won’t suffer!

  • Hennalounge

    I unfollowed all the fools that posted a “turn on notifications” pic. Felt great!!

  • Also, why did all the arrows in those posts point to the upper righthand corner of the screen? The post notifications are in the lower right!

  • Tomboy Tarts

    As a niche site for tomboys, we’re seriously also getting bored of Instagram and we are pretty fed up of the tech companies finding ways and means to monetise their apps with their ‘algorithms’. Wasn’t social media about being social and that meant people can have a choice as to who they want to follow (or not) Why does someone else have to make the decision on this? It feels like a government taking away your freedom to interact freely. To us, it just stinks of greed capitalism where the Instagrams and Facebooks just want to get big brand names to invest money into advertising which really doesn’t bring back much ROI especially when the analytics of the campaign performance can sometimes be made up or are dodgy. We thinks this change will only benefit the celebs and big brand corporations. A very sad state of affairs that are going to ruin a lot of great small, indie brands and infringe yet again on our rights to express and control the kinds of content we want to see on our feeds.