This Is What Actually Happens When You Accidentally Like A Picture On Instagram

by Aoife Hanna
Lucas Ottone/Stocksy

Instagram stalking is both the best and the worst thing ever. It's completely addictive and IDGAF what you say, it happens to the best of us. Almost everyone tries to put their best foot forward on social media, because you want those stalkers to see that you are living your best life right? So I guess what we are seeing isn't real, is it? Real or not, I'll tell you something that is really real: accidentally liking a picture on Instagram.

Damn that double tap feature and damn those genius smartphone inventors for creating such touch sensitive phones. Any slight slip of those bloomin' sausage fingers and game over — you've liked a photo of your ex's new bae's mum's holiday in Crete. You're in panic mode. Should you deactivate your account? Move to a different continent? Nothing is off the table in that moment of sheer, unadulterated panic.

You know that feeling. I know you know that feeling. Its like that sinking, deep, gut wrenching type where your heart kinda falls out of your butt and you cant breathe for what seems like 20 minutes or so but is probably one to two seconds. The technical term is dying inside. But hey, let's not overreact — there's a way through your social media storm. Here are the seven stages of the accidental Insta-like and how to handle each one.


First Contact

In my experience, the stalking tends to be an accidental thing. I could tell you a load ways to avoid doing it but it's not going to stop you. Everyone has their own truth, and this is mine. My day job is in a cafe so I spend my life at the literal mercy of the general public. On the frontline of customer service. Let me tell you, when you are behind that counter you are like people's family, therapist, life coach, servant. It's a very complex job in that way. So when you get a break you deserve to have a little social media siesta, you have earned it babe, tuck in.

First up, there are the follow-suggestions to wade through. I think we can all agree this list is a group of people we want to avoid, but have been sent by Instagram to test us.

And there it is. That person you hooked up with one time. Oh and look, it's an open account. You start off so cocky... Why do people actually have open Instagram accounts? Ha, such twits, who could be so foolish? Hey, who is that woman in the photo with them?


They Look Interesting Why Don't I Zoom In

As if double tap wasn't risky enough, now you can zoom in. This leaves more room for error. You know that it's a risky decision.

So you go on ahead and zoom. Oh look, cute, this woman is tagged! Oh and look, her account is open too. Hmm, why don't you have a little look see what her life is like.

It's usually around 2015 when you see a picture that is super interesting. You've got comfortable now and are feeling like a pro. Doing your thing, almost like a private investigator or something. Well maybe more like a nosey parker but let's go with private investigator.

Ooh what does that tattoo say? Zoom in a little...

Double tap.

Oh crap.

What happens next and what do you do? Hold on, you got this.


It Might Feel Crazy Silent For A Minute

So this is when the aforementioned dying inside happens. Liking someone you have never/will never meet or know's photo. My advice is that you best reach for the nearest pillow and scream right into that thing. Just let it all out, it's OK to freak out. Let every worst anxiety laden feeling wash over you. You have to feel this to know how to proceed.

When your heart starts beating again, you have to think back to who else follows this person. Do you have friends in common on Facebook? Do you think this person you hooked up with remembers you or cares about you or who you like on Instagram? Is there any kind of a social media paper trail?


OK, Back In The Room

Don't panic, do not panic. Do. Not. Panic. OK panic, this is the worst! Depending on the level of weirdness — there is a scale — you might need to get straight into action.

Would unliking the pic be weird? I think that makes it more weird, right? OK, crap I have unliked it. Does that mean they lose the notification? So, unliking it will not remove the notification if the person you follow has push notifications enabled. By this point, the chicken has flown the coop and your notification has already lodged itself on their lock screen. But, if they don't have push notifications, it's all Gucci, you got this. You may have got away with social media murder.


You Might Get A Text

This is worst case scenario. It might be an initially innocuous message, but you need to be prepared for all eventualities. Just play it cool.

Them: "Hey how's things?"

Me: —dying— "Hi! So great! My life is amazing how are you?"

OK, so you have said you are great, things are looking chill. Maybe this person you snogged one time, four years ago, when drunk, just wanted to check in. That is a normal thing. People really care about people and are socially conscious in 2K18.

Them: "Why did you just like a photo of my girlfriend's mum's holiday in Crete?"

Me: "Ahhhh, who? Sorry?"


Lie, Lie, And Lie Again

Just lie. Best thing you can do is lie. They do not need to know you went a bit too deep on the online stalk. Ugh why why why?! If Instagram didn't exist this wouldn't have happened.

Eff you Tim Berners-Lee. Eff you internet gods.

So lies that could work... virus? Say your phone has a virus. Just "fake news" your way the hell out of there.



Look the main and most important advice I can give to you is that in the grand scheme of things, this is a very, very low level crisis. If you have done it, it has probably been done to you. At some point you have to just say, IDGAF. Now play this song and read this.

What is your worst case scenario here? Yes, maybe you look a bit sad and yes, maybe there is someone being a little smug about you liking their photo. Or maybe there is someone who is like "OMG that weirdo you got rid of ages ago just liked my photo!"

Oh who bloody cares. YOLO babe, you are nailing this. Get up, get back to work, get on with your day, and most importantly: do your thang.