home Features The Complex Dynamics of a Close Friends Story Reclaiming Privacy in the Age of Overexposure

The Complex Dynamics of a Close Friends Story Reclaiming Privacy in the Age of Overexposure

Instagram first implemented the feature of a Close Friends Story back in 2018, at a time when the popularity of Snapchat private stories was skyrocketing and people were beginning to get into the habit of vlogging their lives to a small group of friends. With the introduction of a Close Friends option, people were hesitant: what was this new form of story, which, at the time seemed to have plagiarised the same format as a Snapchat private story? Many people wondered why, and for what reason, Instagram needed to have such a feature. Fast forward to late 2020 and the Close Friends feature on Instagram has seen an enormous rise in popularity. If you and your friends use Instagram regularly, you will likely be in somebody’s Close Friends story, or may even have your own.

In our current age, it is now easier than ever to document any aspect of your life to whoever you want – all it takes is a few taps on your phone and the whole world can know you’re having the best staycation, while those select few on your Close Friends can see you’ve stubbed your toe and are actually hobbling around the coasts of Kerry. For many people, there can be complex dynamics to a Close Friends Story while for others it is simply a place to spam. This article will deal exclusively with Instagram’s Close Friends feature but be aware that many of the same issues examined in this article can also be applied to the Snapchat Private Story also.

For those, like me, who over-analyse almost everything, the initial steps to curating your Close Friends comes down to who you want to see, what can sometimes be, the more gory aspects of your being. You obviously add your real life best friends (who are more than likely the same people that have watched you vomit on yourself on a night out). You then must decide how to expand the list – if there is even a need for expansion in the first place.

At the beginning of forming your Close Friends, you will often find yourself trawling through your list of followers asking yourself many questions: What are you going to post? Who do you want to see your posts? Do you add your siblings, or is what you want to post too … NSFFV: not safe for family viewing? For some people this could prove to be an overwhelming moment – you are questioning yourself about who you are truly friends with. Not only this, but you are analysing what it is your friends want to see and panicking trying to figure out if they even want to see anything at all.

An aspect of this Close Friends feature which adds to the overall addictive thrill of apps like Instagram is seeing you’ve actually been added to someone’s Close Friends. Obviously, it is great being a part of one of your best friend’s lists and getting to see even more of their lives, but seeing that little green circle around the icon of somebody you have a friend-crush on or even somebody you have an actual crush on is almost too rewarding. For such a simple feature, it can be so joy inducing. There is almost nothing better than seeing new friendships you’ve recently been forming in real life progress to the Close Friends on Instagram stage.
What is often a gratifying aspect of the Close Friends story can also sometimes prove to be awkward – what do you do and how are you supposed to react when you find yourself added to the Close Friends of somebody you barely know or somebody you don’t actually like all that much? Are you expected to also add them into your story – even if by doing so you feel less comfortable posting what you’d normally have no problem letting your actual close friends see? Another tricky dilemma is knowing when to remove someone – what if you’ve found yourself distancing in real life from someone you once considered yourself close to, or found that one of your friend crushes is not exactly who you expected them to be? Remove, remove, remove? And if they notice they’ve been removed, will they feel hurt? Like you sometimes do when you notice you’ve been removed from a Close Friends.

Or, am I simply making too big a deal out of all this? Does a Close Friends list serve as another means in which social media dominates our lives in a negative way, making us focus on aspects of our existence we would normally not need to? Why do we feel the need to portray, in even more ways to the masses, what we are up to? Are we better off distancing from the all-consuming updates from everyone around us? But maybe it is actually a means for us to gain a sense of intimacy between ourselves and our close friends online? Saying that, maybe one of those social media detox staycations might actually be a good idea? Send your opinions and comments to deputyfeatures@uccexpress.ie