I ‘accidentally’ liked people’s old photos to see how they reacted

Things got shady

By now we’re all bored of the summer holidays and probably maxed out on your regular garden variety internet stalking – so what better way to liven things up than stirring up unnecessary Facebook drama? I picked a selection of victims from my friends list and went all the back through their pictures until I got to the really cringe ones. You know, the awful, embarrassing teenage nightmares we all pretend to forget and (if we’re clever) hide from public view. Then I liked a few. Then I sat back and watched what happened.

My victims were a diverse selection including 11 of my friends, both my brothers’ girlfriends, and seven of those people you have on Facebook, but you’re not really sure who they actually are. Maybe they’re old primary school friends, maybe they’re the boyfriend of that girl that you think you’ve seen in a few lectures, maybe they’re a club promoter. I’ll level with you, I had no idea.

Oddly enough, none of these unknown “friends” reacted in any way. I’m going to assume it’s because the only thing weirder than liking a stranger’s old Facebook pics is introducing yourself by saying “Hi, don’t know who you are, why are you liking my old pictures?”. Either that, or maybe they really just didn’t notice. Maybe people really don’t spend as much time online as I do? Surely that can’t be true.

Such was definitely the case for three of my friends who hadn’t even realised that I’d done this. Finally I got frustrated with them ignoring my very lowkey snakey online behaviour and messaged them directly to ask how they felt about it. Turns out they didn’t give a fuck. Talk about anticlimactic.

Worse than not noticing is the way all but one of my other friends reacted. The phrase “well it’s you…” was used liberally. There was no surprise from any of them, and beyond a mild cringe, no-one was really bothered or confused. One took the opportunity to delete all of their old emo-phase pics from Facebook, which I’m pretty disappointed about, because they were hysterical. One briefly wondered if I’d been trying to find out what they were like before we met, but still wasn’t particularly concerned.

One girl, one my brothers’ girlfriends, thought it was “sweet as it takes time to go through them all”. Being surprisingly nice about my creepiness,she said: “It kinda shows interest but it makes it creepy at the same time. There’s awkwardness as it’s old pictures”. Which I think sums it up pretty well. Honestly, I think the reaction is weirder than the fact I did it in the first place. The other brothers’ girlfriend didn’t react at all, according to him.

But there was one of my friends whose reaction made the entire experiment an absolutely hilarious way to spend an afternoon. See, I hadn’t realised that this would happen, but when you like someone’s old pictures, they’ll appear on various newsfeeds. And if it’s a particularly embarrassing picture, then it might mean that this friend spent their afternoon being absolutely roasted for their past mistakes.

‘If you can’t handle me at my worst…’ – Marilyn

This is surely the great fear and fun in the whole experiment. People want to believe that they’ve got better, that they’re improved as human being with each passing year, and luckily enough we have Facebook to pay tribute to all our old mistakes. It’s a little bittersweet – nobody wants their friends to know how awful they used to be, but, although they might cringe and hastily delete, at least, they think, I’m cooler now. I’ll never go back to that dark place again.

All in all though, this idea sounds more fun on paper than it does in practice, because most people don’t really care that much. But it’s worth knowing that if you look hard enough, every single person out there has at least one truly embarrassing picture left on their Facebook, and that’s never not useful to know. Time to have an in depth look through my own pictures and see what horrors I’ve got tucked away in the past that’ll need removing.

Ah yes, this one