I understand the detrimental effect Instagram has on users globally. The platform is owned by Facebook, a company that famously exploits user data for ad targeting and is doing the same to the roughly 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram.
But if you’re going to steal my data and put democracies across the world at risk, can you at least let me search who has seen my Stories?
I truly believe that you can tell when someone has a new crush because they start posting on their Stories about 10 percent more often. I feel so confident in this because most of my friends tell me they do it. And, usually, they say they want to know if that one new crush is seeing what they are posting. So, they search through their Stories looking for specific people — exes, crushes, enemies. The vast majority of my Instagram followers do this, too, according to a very unscientific poll I took on my Story.
(Every one of my current personal crushes saw the Story, but just three of them responded to the poll. One said they search through who has viewed their Story, and two said they did not. I am still deciding how I feel about this feedback.)
Me, asking my instagram followers (but mostly 1 to 8 hot people) if they manually search through who has seen their Stories.
Personally, when I post an Instagram Story, it is usually for one to eight very specific hot people. One of my Instagram followers told me she searches for people she hates. Another said she searches to ensure that her exes see how hot and successful she is now. A third said he had to stop posing on his Stories altogether, because he could not stop focusing on if a specific hot person had viewed it and it was driving him wild. Many others said they were “healthy and married” and didn’t check who viewed their Story at all.
Personally, when I post an Instagram Story, it is usually for one to eight very specific hot people.
Because you can’t search who viewed your Story, you have to flip through all the normies and family members who saw your thirst trap before you land on the person you were trying to reach to begin with. Sure, sometimes the algorithm shows the people you’re looking for in the three “Seen by” bubbles at the bottom lefthand corner of your Story screen or at the top of your Viewers list, but it’s unreliable.
When you post a Story, you swipe up to see who has viewed it. Names start gathering, and sometimes hot people will be at the top of your list. But, the next time you check, they might be packed in the middle or sidelined to the end. Currently, someone I interned with four years ago and have never spoken to since is at the top of my viewed list, and someone I went to high school with and have never spoken to since is at the bottom. The hot people are all mixed up in the middle.
When you swipe up on your own Story, you can see who has viewed it, but I’ve blurred out my followers here.
And sliding through the people who have seen it, searching for someone whose number you might not even have saved in your phone yet, is a deeply humiliating experience. If hundreds, or even thousands of people view your Story, it can be daunting to swipe through them all looking for someone specific. Plus, if you have multiple Stories, you have to repeat the process for each.
The main reason I want to know if anyone hot viewed my Story is because, if it’s a thirst trap, I’m posting it for them. I want to know if they saw it and didn’t react to it: a cardinal sin. If you think I look good and don’t tell me, do I really look good? I also want to know if they didn’t see it at all, which is, somehow, also a sin. If someone is trying to date me and they aren’t liking my Instagram posts and Tweets or interacting with my Instagram Stories, I assume they just are not simping over me, which I cannot have. This is flirting in 2021, and Instagram is making it more difficult than it already is.
I have a friend who solves this dilemma by very strategically organizing her Close Friends list, which allows users to post a private Story that only a select few people can view. My friend’s list includes all of her exes, anyone she thinks is hot, people she’s currently dating, and her actual, very close friends. She says if she keeps the list to fewer than 50, it’s easy to search and find them. But I simply cannot commit to this kind of organization: It requires too much work on my part, and I cannot imagine gathering all of my crushes into one category to post for them alone. Something about that feels embarrassing. Plus, my Stories are fun and should be seen by all, not just my crushes.
Social media has changed the way we date. You aren’t running into someone on purpose at their job at the diner circa 1950 — you’re posting a beach pic on your Stories, to let them know you are having fun and looking hot and far too busy to be thinking of them. But when you have to flip through a few hundred people to see if your effort worked, it can feel even more draining than the post itself.
Instagram, we can search through who likes our feed posts. It’s time we stop being forced to manually flip through who has seen our Stories. We’ve earned it.