I know a way to make Instagram better.
Before I get into it, a statement of purpose: I am a creep on Instagram. I look at all sorts of people who would be confused and embarrassed for me if they saw me thoroughly scrolling through their posts from 2013: friend crushes, long-ago exes, the current girlfriends of those long-ago exes, professional nemeses, the friends of professional nemeses, the girl who went to my high school who dated Charlie Sheen, my old teachers, the kid I used to babysit for who now posts incessantly about weed legalization. (I like to see what everyone’s up to, whatever!) If you’re a normie who only looks at your ACTUAL FRIENDS AND FAMILY, there’s nothing for you here.
Instagram should create an undo option for accidental Instagram likes — a three-minute window when you can take back a slippery-fingered endorsement of a 68-week-old photo of your acquaintance who dresses cool. If you don’t want them to know you were looking at a photo of latte art they took three years ago, you should have a chance to fix your mistake.
When you’re deep into an Instagram information-gathering mission and you accidentally hit the heart button, you’re left with a no-win social fiasco: If you leave it, the recipient will see it. But if you un-heart-button the post, they still get a notification. In both scenarios, you look bad. While leaving it up makes the faux pas easier to discover, taking it back makes it obvious that not only did you do the embarrassing thing, you agonized over doing the embarrassing thing.
There is no drawback to giving hapless weirdos a buffer window to fix their social media slipups. Yes, Instagram would have to build in a slight delay to its notifications in order to make this work, but there has never been a single instance when somebody absolutely needed to know a person liked their photo less than three minutes after they liked it.
At this point, you may be wondering why I’m focusing on Instagram. Deep-liking something can also be socially fraught on Twitter and Facebook, but Instagram’s feed makes it very easy to find yourself years deep in someone’s content — and very easy to accidentally like it, since double-tapping anywhere on the photo is the same thing as tapping the heart button. And when we tested to see if someone gets a notification even if you’re quick enough to unfav or un-like something within seconds, Instagram (as well as Twitter) still sends the recipient a notification even if you’re very speedy, while Facebook does not.
I recognize that this is an extremely specific update to address a behavior that most people won’t even admit to doing, but there’s no argument to be made against it. Instagram’s user engagement is down — a small token of appreciation to the creeps and hornies in its user base can’t hurt.
Instead of making its users angry by introducing trash updates like a nonchronological feed, why not do something flamboyantly good, something that will make us happy? Institute the Fav Grace Period and save us from ourselves.