I don't want to miss a thing — that's generally my sentiment when it comes to doing my Instagram scrolls. (Cue Aerosmith's iconic track.) My feed-checking patterns go like this: on my morning commute I do a big scroll until I'm all caught up to the night before. If I have time throughout the day I'll do a few mini-scrolls, but my general rule is that I like to go all the way until the last image I saw in my previous scroll. And then at night-time I'm permanently on Instagram so I see everything — sometimes I open the app and there aren't even any updates, which makes me a little sad.
This works for me because I follow a little over 400 accounts, half of which don't post regularly. But I know a lot of people who follow way more accounts than me and as a result don't get to see everything. So it's interesting that the main reaction to Instagram's proposed changes is that people want to keep Instagram linear, even though they don't get to see every post from every account they follow.
In case you missed it, Instagram announced plans to change its feed algorithm to "show the moments we believe you will care about the most." The popular social media platform justified this decision because "people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds," and it wants to make sure we don't miss anything important.
Over the past couple of years other social media channels have switched up their algorithms for the same purpose. Facebook realised we're friends with people we went to school with, and that we want to stay connected without knowing what they had for breakfast, so it reorganised our main feeds to show highlights — this often means things that were posted 22 hours ago appear at the top of my news feed.
Similarly, Twitter on mobile has a 'While you were away . . .' function that brings up tweets as recently as four minutes ago to 17 hours ago. I mean, I'm glad it's bringing Gelato Messina's newest flavour to my attention, but with the nature of Twitter being as fast-moving as it is, it doesn't really make sense.
Which brings us back to Instagram. On its blog, Instagram explained how the order will change: "The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you'll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we're focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order."
Despite our intimate relationships with Instagram — depending on how much you check it — the app has no way of knowing exactly what we're interested in on any given day. Sure, there's probably a pattern with the pictures I regularly double-tap, but this changes every day. John Mayer, one of the celebrities joining the campaign to #KeepInstagramChronological, put it beautifully with this Instagram note.
Jaime King, another high profile star who likes her feed just the way it is, wrote a note describing the upcoming change as "dangerous." "Don't promote exclusiveness — let people run their own accounts according to the order of their lives," she argued.
Considering it's a platform that has always been about the community, and fostering new talent, hopefully Instagram will take into consideration, and see it as a compliment, that users don't want to fix what isn't broken. There are already ways to see top-performing content via the Explore page (which evolved from being the most Popular page, where all featured posts had 500+ likes), or being presented with nine 'Top Posts' any time you do a search. And if you're concerned with not missing a single post from a particular account, there's an option to change settings so you're notified every time that account publishes something.
There are users like me, who are obsessed with seeing everything, and there are users who are happier just seeing whatever they see when they have time. This works for us now, and we don't really want to be told what we should be seeing. We're the ones hoping Instagram continues to let it work for us.