The Curious Case Of The Random Instagram Follower

As much or as little as I post on social media, I still don’t really know why I use it.  The stuff I post isn’t particularly interesting.  I think I’ve only once got in to double figures for likes on either Facebook or Instagram.  Retweets barely get started.  My most popular post on this blog is the sodding lawnmower review.

Of course, one of the uses of social media for quite a few people is simply to see what other people do.  I would rank myself as more of a consumer than publisher, but I do at least try.  I know that I have various family members who have social accounts just to have a look.  They’re the modern day equivalent to those hiding in bushes, and that’s a strange comparison when you think about.

Online stalking is a modern thing that is largely accepted, while the version from a few decades is not socially acceptable and has highly negative connotations.  I would venture, though, that most of us have done it.

I know I have.  I’ve tried to find interviewees and interviewers at work, and I’ve tried to make blind dates not quite so blind, especially when the organiser just gives me a name, a busy place and a peak time with no other indication of who I might be meeting! I’ve known it used in business, and anyone who has watched the TV program Hunted will know just how much information the authorities can garner from your social profiles.

That’s the socially acceptable version, but there is also sinister stalking behaviour online and I’ve seen what that can do when a spurned love interest wouldn’t take no from someone.

Since Instagram stories have become a thing, it’s now easier to see who is really looking at your online content.  I have a random Instagram follower who likes occasional posts, doesn’t miss a story and even occasionally replies to them.  This person doesn’t follow many other people and very few are non-celebrities, as far as I can tell, and only has one follower – me (I like to reciprocate).  Facebook suggested I should be friends with them but the only thing posted on Facebook is the same impersonal profile picture as on Instagram – no posts, no friends, and to the level that I don’t think it’s been set-up at all, rather than set-up as private.

Now, the reason I’m saying all this is that I have a feeling I know who this person is.  I also might be completely wrong, but there is a trail of breadcrumbs that point to someone.  Whether that’s true or not, I’m going to go with it to make my point!

There’s a common thing said about internet trolls, that they wouldn’t say it if they weren’t safely scratching their balls behind their keyboard while they eat a Pot Noodle in bed.  OK, maybe it’s just me that says some of that!  I also said before that online stalking is the easy side of a far more sinister activity, neither of which I could obviously condone, but which is often seen as not even an offence – it becomes an option where physical locality wouldn’t be.

But can we not take similar sentiment and apply it to the happy side of social media?  How many times could we possibly make someone’s day by complimenting them on what they’re wearing (if they would rather be a social media influencer) or their skills if they showing off their photography or their services?  The double tap to like is pretty easy.  Why is not always that easy to bring it in to the real world? Why do we not always even think about doing it in the real world?

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