As I was contentedly making my way through my sixth bout of Instagram scrolling the other day, a little green blip caused me to awaken from my scrolling stupour. "You're all caught up" the blip said to me. I sat up straight in the seat, my eyes darting around the room. I thought: "Oh my god, have I done the impossible? Have I reached the promised land? Have I scrolled...to the end... of Instagram?"
Until, you know, I moved my eyes ever so slightly downwards and realised that: "no, you did not scroll to the end of Instagram, you absolute loon." I had merely borne witness to the Gram's newest feature - the You're all Caught Up banner that appears on your feed once you've seen all the new posts from the people you follow from the last two days.
The new feature is a move to combat the sea of complaints about Instagram's algorithm, that had flooded in when the platform changed their feed from chronological order to one that rewarded posts with high engagement. Now, users arguably get the best of both worlds, by having a chronological feed at the top, and, upon completing that, moving on to a feed of popular posts.
We are all guilty of heavily prolonged scrolling on social media, and the main reason for it is our incessant FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, if you can hear me under your rock). We glue ourselves to our screens to make sure we never miss one single snap, one iota of gossip. Of course, the fact that, in the process, we miss out entirely on the real moments happening live around us doesn't really enter our heads. Baby Boomers are constantly bitching about our generation's social media habits, and tell us regularly how important it is to log off and experience life in living colour. But, until the FOMO subsides, their pleas are falling on deaf ears.
Until this little step back to sanity came along via Instagram. A chronological feed is exactly what we need to curb our enthusiasm for scrolling. When feeds change constantly based on rising and falling levels of engagement, we never feel as if we're reaching the end of our content. There could be something else we haven't seen, something just beyond the next flick the thumb. But chronology, and especially a gentle little alert like Instagram's, lets us know that: "hey, you can stop now. There's nothing else going on without you. Go back to spending time with actual people for a while." Could the You're all Caught Up feature be the thing to finally pull our thumbs away from the screens?
Did I keep scrolling after I spotted the new feature? Yes. But only for a mere two posts, before I realised, with mega-watt clarity, that I had seen all of this and it was time to stop before I descended down the Instagram hole and felt a bit crap about myself and life in general for the rest of the day. The feature literally caused me to check myself before I wrecked myself. And that's definitely a good start.