You take a look at your Instagram profile, congratulating yourself on an aesthetically pleasing theme you have curated when you’ve been planning social. But suddenly, your attention is captured and your eyes become locked to the numbers on the screen. Struggling for breath, you stumble backwards. You let the phone slip out from your hand and clatter onto the floor. Your follower count has gone… d-d-d-down.
Stage 1: Denial
A colleague approaches with concern, enquiring if you’re okay. You can barely speak but manage to force out a few words about ‘lighting on point’ and ‘strong selfie game’. They nod understandingly, even though they don’t. You take a deep breath, pulling yourself together and announce to the room that “a mistake has been made” by the social media platform.
Stage 2: Anger
You continue with your day, increasingly tormented by the trauma of this morning. ‘Just a mistake!’ You murmur to yourself repetitively, rocking back and forth as your colleagues edge further and further away. ‘But was it?’ A little voice in the back of your head wonders. Without warning, you’re overcome with intense feelings of betrayal. You recall how many hours you spent choosing which holiday pictures to upload. How dare they not appreciate your hot dogs or legs.
Stage 3: Bargaining
During your lunch break, you hesitate when choosing your food. Which would look better on your Instagram page? The BLT sandwich, or the tomato pasta? You wonder if your profile needs more colour and opt for the greenest salad you can find. You take the snap, apply a filter, and upload with an emoji caption. You pause to look up at the blue sky with a forlorn expression. Are the Instagram Gods watching? Is this what they want?
Stage 4: Depression
You step onto the tube with a heavy heart. With a large backpack mere centimetres from your face, and what feels like an umbrella pressed into your shoulder blade, you struggle to hold the self-deprecation at bay. You feel un-creative, un-photogenic, and thoroughly un-appreciated. You spot two teenage girls taking a selfie over by the doors. Sighing, you think back to a simpler time, less than 10 hours ago. “That was me once” you tell your neighbouring passenger. They get off at the next stop.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Home at last, you collapse onto your sofa. Reunited with wifi, your phone shudders to life within your back pocket. Wary of more disappointment, you reluctantly take a look at the flood of notifications. To your disbelief, there’s 40 new likes on your latest Instagram post. You refresh the page again and again, not quite sure if it’s real. Considering this, you conclude that likes are more important than followers anyway. Back at it again, you post a boomerang of your cat chasing a squirrel.
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