It happened to me: I was a victim of Instagram’s botched update.
I woke up on Thursday and went through my usual morning routine — shut off my alarm after four painful rounds of hitting snooze, cleared my notifications, and blearily scrolled through social media to catch up on whatever I missed out on while I was asleep. Facebook was full of holiday photos from my mildly problematic family friends, and Twitter was refreshingly devoid of hot takes.
Then I got to Instagram, tapped through whatever popped up on my screen without actually reading it, and seemed to hit a wall while scrolling. Still half-asleep, I closed the app and tried again, when a pop-up told me there was a “new way to move through posts.” I ignored it again and tried my usual mindless scroll, but only went through the comments of a niche meme instead.
It’s because of the Instagram update
— Nyle DiMarco (@NyleDiMarco) December 27, 2018
To my horror, I had to tap to get through photos. The mysterious algorithm that banished chronological posts had decided to curse me with Instagram’s latest update, locking me into some sort of horizontal hell of eternal tapping.
The progress bar, which was supposed to show how much further you had to go before reaching the end, only seemed to get longer the more I tapped. It was almost claustrophobic — there was no end in sight, and you couldn’t hit the top of the feed to start at the beginning.
Even worse, we’re still in the throes of holiday season. Every other post I waded through seemed to be a 7 to 10 photo slideshow of groups wearing matching “ugly” sweaters, with every photo subject contorted into some painful crouch to fit in the frame. I haven’t talked to most of these people in person in years — why did I have to see their distant uncle hunched into a parody of a sorority squat?
I remember closing the app, sending a quick prayer to the algorithm gods, and opening it again in hopes that it was just a terrible glitch. It wasn’t. I switched to my finsta, which was spared in what seemed to be some sort of user culling, and briefly considered erasing my main account altogether so I didn’t have to deal with the tapping.
The cursed feed changed back after an hour.
“Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion,” a spokesperson for Instagram wrote in a statement to us.
According to a tweet from the head of Instagram, Adam Monsseri, it was “supposed to be a small test but we went broader than anticipated.”
Sorry about that, this was supposed to be a very small test but we went broader than we anticipated. 😬
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) December 27, 2018
The Great Feed Change and the online panic that followed proves something: People don’t go on Instagram to see what their friends are up to. We use Instagram for mindless scrolling to kill time. Tapping through posts horizontally takes effort, and forces you to actually look at posts before moving on. Sure, it could be great as a social experiment, but who wants that? We just want to be able to wake up and scroll through cat photos until we feel alive again. (And by “we” I mean me. I want to scroll through cat photos until I feel something again.)
If anything, this hour-long hell made me realize that I need to unfollow a lot of accounts that, in all honesty, I don’t really care about anymore. It makes me want to curate my feed so I’ll only see updates from people that I still talk to and still want to see.
And it made me miss the chronological feed more than ever before, but there’s little chance of bringing that Eden back.