CLEO (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

“Hello, my name’s Tommy, and I’m ad­dicted to Instagram.” Well, that’s how I pic­ture it’ll go down. Then there will be other ad­dicts sit­ting around in a makeshift cir­cle of chairs who will re­spond in uni­son, “Hi Tommy!”

It’s my first Instagram Ad­dicts Anony­mous meet­ing and if some­thing doesn’t change, I’ll be there sooner rather than later. I will look around the room and see a whole mot­ley crew of other ob­sessed peo­ple. Mostly girls who have ei­ther been to, or are at­tend­ing, a pri­vate school, but there are also a few D-grade celebs and a mum who was shown how to use Instagram by her daugh­ter, and now can’t go a day with­out find­ing out what or who Re­becca Judd is wear­ing.

I’m no stranger to the so­cial me­dia world. In fact, it stopped be­ing so­cial for me a long time ago. I tweet and Face­book un­der the ta­ble, while my ac­tual phys­i­cal friends try in vain to prop up a one-sided con­ver­sa­tion. It’s just that Instagram never re­ally in­ter­ested me. I thought it was full of girls who like to call them­selves promo mod­els, pos­ing in clothes they were given for free. Af­ter months of hav­ing the app on my phone, I can tell you cat­e­gor­i­cally that I was bang on the money. I only down­loaded it out of cu­rios­ity be­cause I’m very much of the mind­set that the one thing worse than a bad party is to find out you weren’t in­vited to said bad party. And that’s where this whole mess started. For the first week, I was like a ner­vous man at a swingers’ night, much hap­pier to sit back and watch rather than ac­tively par­tic­i­pate. I posted a pic­ture, some peo­ple liked it. I in­stantly con­fused that with “Peo­ple like me!” and Instagram wasn’t so bad. I then dis­cov­ered the joy of fil­ters. Look­ing pale? Va­len­cia will fix that. Bad skin? Make it black and white, and you will look like a movie star! Sud­denly your fam­ily photo al­bum has turned into an am­a­teur-mod­el­ling port­fo­lio.

This eu­pho­ria of a bet­ter-look­ing me was quickly re­placed with fear. What if I run out of ma­te­rial? What if th­ese peo­ple who like me get bored be­cause I have noth­ing to post? I de­cided to plan in ad­vance. In three months’ time, I will buy a puppy, and a cou­ple of months later when that’s pho­tographed to within an inch of its life, I will have a kid. And then if I don’t get at least a thou­sand new fol­low­ers, I will adopt out and then try again un­til I get one who’s cute enough.

I wish I could say at this point that I’m jok­ing, but I’m not. I re­alised I was in the full throes of ad­dic­tion when I started tap­ping peo­ple twice on the fore­head if they were wear­ing some­thing I liked. I’ve now be­come that guy and I hate it.

It’s at that point in the meet­ing that I will sud­denly re­alise I’ve been rant­ing for an hour and I should let the next per­son have their turn; “So that’s my story, thanks for let­ting me share.” I will sit down to a smat­ter­ing of ap­plause. The next per­son starts to speak and I will pre­tend to lis­ten, while se­cretly try­ing to take a photo with my phone that’s peek­ing out from the top of my pocket. “First meet­ing at IAA, lol #nofil­ter.” Yeah, that one will get some dou­ble-taps for sure.

“My hair looks so flaw­less ... need to take a selfie. #in­sta­hair #coiffed #beardgame­strong”

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