I’ve got a real love-hate relationship with group chats.

On the one hand, no one really has the time or patience to manually copy and paste the same sentence into a gazillion separate messages. We’re not about that. It’s way easier to moan on mass and gather important outfit info in a single shared conversation where, in theory, everyone reads and responds to texts with an suitably lol emoji at the drop of a notification.

But, we all know that’s not quite how it goes, is it?

Group chats are brilliantly chaotic at the best of times. If you’re anything like me and have roughly 19 on the go (and by that I mean 19 that exist but two that are actually ever in use), you might have noticed that they all follow pretty much the same pattern before fizzling out.

If they were all boiled down to seven stages, this would be it. Sound familiar?

1. The name game

What’s in a name, you ask? So. Much. Pressure. I’m pretty sure when Shakespeare threw that line into Romeo and Juliet, he wasn’t thinking about the stress of inviting a bunch of people into a convo and then having to decide whether to name it or not. But it’s about as stressful as what the star-crossed lovers were dealing with*. Kind of.

Obvs, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t name your group chat. But for the sake of knowing which chat is which and avoiding that tragically awkward thing of sending the wrong message to the wrong group, a named chat can be the saving grace you didn’t see coming.

*maybe don’t cite this in your English homework.

2. Who’s missing?

Working out who to include in a group chat is normally straight forward enough. But when it comes to those irregular chats, the ones with a specific purpose outside of your day-to-day gab, there’s always that minor panic of not including someone. After all, no one likes to be left out.

missing-kevin

Saying that though, once I panicked a bit too much about not inviting every single person I knew to a conversation and accidentally added the friend whose surprise birthday we were planning. Safe to say it didn’t remain a surprise.

3. Awkward side commentary

There comes a time in every group chat when someone goes rogue. They’ll say something that you’re not happy about, that doesn’t make sense or that really needs some thought.

So you end up having separate conversation with your BFF to talk about what’s been said, which then becomes a live commentary on what is (or isn’t) spoken about.  Then you end up chatting about a load of completely unrelated things and forget about the group chat you were originally meant to be paying attention to.  Which leads us swiftly on to…

4. The dreaded ‘delivered, read, no response’ fiasco

On a scale from one to annoying, this HAS to be at the top of everyone’s list of blood-boiling, forehead-vein-popping pet hates.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. Sometimes we’re on our phones and then it rings/dinner’s ready/Netflix crashes/you fall asleep. The messages we were meant to reply to are then forgotten, leaving our friends with nothing more than two blue ticks and zero idea whether we’re okay with going as the Seven Dwarf to that fancy dress party. But still, it drives everyone crazy.

5. ‘Oh. Okay. Bye then’

You unlock your phone and open your app. You check into the group conversation to see how many people read your last message because as we mentioned earlier, people forget/get busy/don’t respond. Then you see the five words no group chatter is ever emotionally ready to read…

‘Jessie has left the conversation’.

giphynn

They’ve left. Like, gone. Without so much of a ‘bye guys’.

Sometimes it’s an accident and they have to awkwardly ask to be re-invited. But it never looks like an accident, does it? Oh, no. The rest of you are left scratching your heads wondering what on earth you might’ve done to annoy Jessie so much. 

6. Get a room

Ok, this might be what annoyed Jessie so much. There’s a time and a place to talk about the things that only really relate to a single person, my friends, and that’s in one of those old school one-to-one ‘conversations’.

giphy-3

But eventually, inevitably, someone in every group chat will direct a question an individual rather than the whole group. Next thing you know they’re 58 notifications deep into a conversation that no one else can jump into. Take it outside, people.

7. Stalemate

If you’re lucky, by this time the whole reason for starting a group chat in the first place will have been resolved. You’ll all know what you’re wearing to that fancy dress party, the surprise birthday will be planned and that thing you needed to moan about will have received a hearty amount of support.

But then everyone runs out of things to say because questions have been answered and you’re left in GCL (group chat limbo). As other conversations overtake, it’s no longer at the top of your screen and your pocket pals are left in the wilderness.

At least, that’s until the next group chat is created. See number 1.

@JazKopotsha

Image: Hailey Hamilton

You know your Valencia from your Juno, you know how to keep your mates entertained with the funniest Instagram Stories and you know the best selfie angles to get the most likes. But what if we told you there are some Instagram secrets you don’t know?

Okay, okay, you’ll probably know some of them. But we’d bet your next super Instagrammable unicorn cupcake that we know some tips you don’t.

We’ve collected together some of our top Insta secrets and cool hacks to make using your favourite app more fun than ever. Whether you’re just starting out, like to use Instagram for silly selfies and keeping your friends updated about what you’re up to or you’re an aspiring Instagram superstar, we’ve got some goodies for you.

And if we’ve missed out your favourite trick or tip, please share it with us in the comments below!

1. Do you have a favourite Instagrammer? Get notified when they post photos

Have you got one or two favourite Instagram influencers that you just can’t get enough of? Or maybe your best mate is on holiday and you want to see everything she posts as she posts it? Well, you can set up notifications for specific people – so you’re the first to know what they’re doing.

Here’s how to do it: Visit your favourite person’s profile and click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner. A menu will pop-up and the bottom option is ‘Turn on Post Notifications’. Just click that and you’ll be notified when they post. If you get sick of seeing everything they do after a while, just do the same thing to turn them off. Simple!

2. Do you have a favourite filter? Put it to the top of the class

There are plenty of great Instagram filters, but most of us have one or two that we use more often than the others. To save yourself a bit of time, you can re-order your filters so your faves always come first.

Here’s how to do it: Next time you’re editing a photo, head to ‘Filter’ but instead of choosing one, scroll right to the end and tap ‘Manage’. Here’s where you can press and hold the list icon next to your filters to shake up their order – just press, hold and drag. You can switch filters on or off here too with the tick on the right-hand side. This is good if there are some you just never ever use. We’re looking at you, Inkwell.

3. Keep it real and change the intensity of your filters

When Instagram first launched, you picked a filter and had to live with how it looked. Now you have way more freedom and can add just a little hint of a filter instead. This is really good if you like your photos to be slighty edited, but to look quite natural too.

Here’s how to do it: You can tap a filter once to apply it to your photo, but tap it again and a little slider appears, which lets you change the filter’s intensity from 0 to 100.

4. Bored of your Instagram feed? Then use the ‘Explore’ tab waaaay more

This one isn’t a secret. Your Explore tab is right there, after all. But this is just a reminder to check it more often. Instagram uses its smart tech to fish out new people and photos and videos and stories you might like to follow and puts them all in this tab. If you love your Instagram feed just the way it is, ignore this. If you’re on the hunt for new stuff, then don’t forget to check it out once in a while.

Here’s how to do it: Click the little magnifying glass in the bottom menu bar within the Instagram app. Stories you might like are at the top, a video is usually displayed in the middle and then there are photos from people you don’t already follow at the bottom.

5. Want more likes? Then think about when you post

If you’re using Instagram for fun and don’t care whether you get 1 or 100 likes, then post photos whenever you want. But if you want to get more likes and become a bit more Insta-famous, then social media experts tend to suggest that posting photos at lunchtime – that’s between 11am and 2pm – or in the evening – that’s between 6pm and 9pm – tend to get you the most likes and comments. Now that won’t always be the case, but it’s a simple rule to remember if you want to think a bit smarter about when you post.

6. Want more freedom? Use Instagram’s other apps

If you’re tired of just sharing static photos, then you should check out Instagram’s other apps. Hyperlapse lets you create fancy timelapse videos, Boomerang lets you make GIF-like looping videos and Layout lets you combine images into a grid. This one is our favourite for making collages or moodboards.

7. Edit now and post later by saving a draft

You take a great photo. You use Instagram to edit it and apply a filter. You write a really funny caption. But then you realise you don’t want to share it straight away – you want to wait until 6pm when you’ll get more likes! Now Instagram lets you save your posts as drafts so you can come back to them later.

Here’s how to do it: Do everything you’d usually do to your photo first, like add effects, filters, a caption and your location. But then instead of hitting ‘Share’, press the back button in the top left-hand corner. Then press it again. Instagram will ask you if you want to ‘Save Draft’ or ‘Discard’. Click ‘Save Draft’ and next time you go to add a photo, it’ll pop-up first under ‘Drafts’ above your regular photo library.

8. Make your bio and captions stand out and look better with line breaks

You probably think that to add line breaks to your Instagram bio or captions you need to write everything out in Notes or a note-taking app first, then copy it across. But there’s a much easier way to break up text.

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

1. Did I just…?

2. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

3. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4. Unlike it immediately!

5. Oh my god! I re-liked it! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!

6. My life is officially over.

7. Will they still get a notification that I liked the photo?

8. Will it say which photo I liked?!

9. WHY, OH WHY, DID IT HAVE TO BE THE PHOTO WITH THEIR EX?! Do the internet gods have no mercy?

10. I should text Jo and tell her to like and then unlike one of my photos and see what happens.

11. Why won’t Jo text me back?!

12. Urgh and because we don’t even follow each other on Instagram they’ll know I stalked them.

13. And that I trawled through the bazillion Alex Joneses and found the Alex Jones (by the way, thanks for having such a generic name) and that I then proceeded to go through SEVENTY EIGHT WEEKS of Instagram posts.

14. Is it possible they’ll find it flattering?

15. No. Probably not.

16. Maybe I should delete my Instagram account.

17. ORRRR I could move to Latvia! No one knows me in Latvia.

18. I wonder how much flights to Latvia are?

19. What’s the capital of Latvia…

20. Riga? Huh, I wouldn’t have guessed that.

21. I should move to Riga.

22. But then I’d never see Alex again and we would never fall in love.

23. Maybe I’ll just have another look.

Ah, love. It’s a tricky bastard. Love means a million different things to a million different people, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if what you’re feeling is true love, intense like, a raging crush or just the first twinges of indigestion.

But sometimes, you just know. Shakespeare had his summer’s day, Jane Austen had her country dances… and we have the moment you decide to share your Netflix password. Here are some 2017 signs that you’re probably, definitely, in love.

1. You let them take the stamp for your coffee on their loyalty card.

2. You actually put your phone down when they talk to you.

3. You offer them the last slice of pizza.

4. …then they say, ‘No, you have it.’

5. You agree to see La La Land for a second time, even though musicals make you want to punch things.

6. Even Snapchat knows you’re together and puts two pink hearts next to their name.

7. You can share a tent at a festival in August for a whole four days and still be speaking to them at the end.

8. They let you practice everything you learned from Dr Pimple Popper on their chin.

9. You’ve felt a strange and overwhelming urge to give them your wifi code.

10. There are more strips of adorable photobooth pictures in your purse than actual cards or money.

11. Every meme they tag you in actually makes you laugh, not just like to be polite.

12. You have Instagram notifications turned on for them, even if they’re a six-nearly-identical-blurry-selfies-at-once person. Even then.

13. They are the very first person you WhatsApp “SNOW!!!!! ❄️☃️❄️☃️” to when it snows.

14. And sad faces to when it turns to rain three minutes later.

15. You know their exact Starbucks order, and recite it faithfully even when it’s embarrassingly long.

16. You look at them the way everyone looks at Beyoncé.

Image: Getty

Parents are embarrassing in real life, but they are, without question, at their peak cringe when they decide to engage with social media. If, by some lucky miracle, your parents aren’t on social media or haven’t worked out emojis yet, we strongly urge you not to teach them (though on the plus side, their social media cock-ups can provide a steady stream of LOLs).

But one 18-year-old from Austria has decided her parents have taken their digital activities one step too far – so she’s doing the only logical thing: she’s suing them.

Say what?

Yep. She’s suing her parents for posting embarrassing childhood photos to Facebook. In the last seven years, she claims her parents have uploaded more than 500 photographs of her as a child to the social network without her permission, and that it has made her life miserable.

They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public

Woah.

While lawyering up might be a pretty extreme response to public parental affection (whatever happened to just writing “GOD MUM YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING GODDDD” underneath and slamming a few doors?), there’s no denying that parents + social media often = a whole heap of pain.

In case anyone else is looking for more reasons to go all Good Wife on your ‘rents, here are a few other social media mishaps that we wish we could sue our parents over…

1. Re-posting poems captioned “Share this if you’re a mom who loves her kids!!!!”

2. Liking three weeks’ worth of Instagram photos in one giant landslide of notifications

3. Putting kisses on the ends of tweets to nobody in particular.

4. Misusing the cry-laughing emoji on texts telling you your Grandma is in hospital.

5. Showing they’re angry with you by passive-aggressively refusing to like your photos, and expecting you to notice or care.

6. Excessive fear of The Man, leading them to periodically delete their accounts or post 500-word chain statuses about Mark Zuckerberg harvesting details on your favourite crisps and Netflix viewing habits to sell to terrorists.

7. Replying to everything Phillip Schofield says on Twitter, and genuinely expecting a reply.

8. Posting things in the voice of their pets. E.g. A photo of a dog with “I had a really hard day today! I went for a big walk in the morning and swam in the river, then rolled in some mud so had to have a bath when I got home. I met so many new friends! Now I’m home and cuddled up with teddy” on Twitter, and genuinely expecting a reply.

And our personal fave:

9. Referring to it as ‘The Facepage’.

Dislike.

Ahh, Instagram. You big lying wizard, you.

While we know with our brains that all those super-groomed outfit shots, perfect bag spills and dreamy beach scenes aren’t exactly what they seem, sometimes it’s hard to believe it in your heart. Especially when you’ve taken 54 grainy mirror selfies, your mum won’t play photographer anymore and you’ve almost injured yourself falling off a chair trying to snap your breakfast.

The most important thing about Instagram is that things are never as they seem,” says photographer Kate Forster. “It is always reassuring to remember that people are not always where they say they are, the pictures may have been edited 10 times before posting, and that girl’s skin is probably not as flawless as you thought while you stared at your mid-month breakout though the camera lens!”

So in the interests of looking behind the lens, reminding ourselves that perfection is all just smoke and mirrors (and  filters), we asked six Instagram stars to spill the beans on one of their gorgeous photos.

From bloating and bad hair days to location fakery, here’s what was really going on IRL…

Pandora Sykes

Pandora Sykes

I adored this two piece velvet suit from Alice Archer, a designer I have worked with before, but it was slightly too small – and I had my period and was bloated, and was so scared of someone taking my picture from an angle.

I’d been taken to Paris by Chanel for their show which felt like a Big Deal, but I was worried they’d be really glossy and haughty. Imagine my relief when they encouraged me to undo my skirt at lunch, and order pasta? Things are rarely as they seem – whether it be a picture, or a posh designer.” @pandorasykes 

Kavita Cola  

Kavita Cola

In this image I was in glamorous Cannes during the Film Festival. Standing on the rooftop of the 3.14 Hotel, loving my back drop, my friend Annie and I had carefully picked a spot to take a couple of pictures of me in my dress, with my well invested, treasured (expensive) Leica camera. Directly behind Annie, there were two couples (two guys and two girls) in a raised jacuzzi, taunting and splashing their water from over the little rail. Every time we walked to the corner and Annie was about to take the photo they kept splashing us and laughing out load, which felt like taunting. In the end they had managed to soak Annie, soak the front of my dress, soak the left side of my hair and almost soaked my camera. I almost feel a little bit silly saying this now but at the time it really felt like bullying and I was quite upset.

Anyhow, I managed to get my winning shot in the end but left the scene looking like a drowned rat. Eek! #HatersGonnaHate.” @kavitacola

 Kristabel Plummer 

Kristabel Plummer

I was in Portugal for a friend’s wedding but also had a brand project that I needed to create content for. I only had one day where I could shoot the photos but it also happened to be raining and my photographer friend wanted to hurry up and go to the spa. Add to that I rarely see images of myself in a bikini, and you have a very insecure Kristabel indeed.  

The thing about social media is that you’re very often presented with one kind of body, especially when it comes to women in bikinis. I took loads of photos where I wasn’t happy with my stomach; in this one it looks a little bit more toned but still showcases a more straight-up-and-down figure. Not everyone has a Kardashian waist-to-hip ratio and that’s totally fine, we need to see more of it! Even though I wasn’t initially happy with the photos, I had to tell myself that just because we’re so used to seeing one kind of body on social media, it doesn’t make other bodies wrong. We need to reprogram our brains a bit with more diverse imagery. Also we’re in our heads so much, no one else usually sees that flaws that we do.” @iamkristabel

Kate Forster

Kate Forster Instagram image

Beds and duvets on Instagram tend to perform very well. If you’ve seen picture upon picture of legs, in beds with the morning newspaper and first flat white of the day, then you will know what I mean! I myself have indulged in a few Instagram ‘bed’ shots, but most of them haven’t been anywhere near a bed…

Take this snap for example. I was on holiday in a beautiful hotel in The Lake District. Don’t get me wrong, the bed was beautiful – but the lighting was not. I wanted that gorgeous white, exposed ‘Instagram light’, so to achieve this, the duvet was dragged out on to the balcony. My breakfast was by now freezing, the duvet strategically placed to hide the fake tan/makeup leakage and I tried desperately to contort my legs so they looked as lean and long as possible, not to mention my boyfriend hovering above me awkwardly with the camera. ‘Lazy’ morning, huh?” @misskatef

Ella Gregory 

cocosteaparty

I currently live at home with my parents, and my desk (AKA ‘home office’) is in the loft, which is otherwise used as a dumping ground for items that need to be thrown away. It’s not a very nice or glamorous place to work, and my desk is tiny and smushed between lots of old boxes and a sofa bed.

However, for this I styled up my desk with some books and other props to make it look more glossy, made a cup of coffee even though I don’t really drink it any more, and took about 54 photos of the scene until I got something that looked slick enough. I then edited all the colours to improve the lighting and make it more Instagrammable.” @cocosteaparty

Wendy H Gilmour 

Wendy H Gilmour

“Shooting this campaign for Sassoon, the truth is that I had to walk home with my coat over my head in the drizzle to stop my hair from frizzing and then crumple myself under my kitchen worktop to get the shots without ruining the ‘do’. I had it covered in concrete and it comes in very handy as a backdrop – I just can’t sit up straight! So glam.” @thankfifi

So what have we learned? Nothing is really perfect. And sometimes, you should just eat your breakfast while it’s still hot.

You probably know the story by now. A few weeks ago, Justin posted a stream of selfies of him and his new lady friend, Sofia Richie, on Instagram.

Lots of Beliebers were less than impressed and started throwing some serious shade at Sofia. Biebs came to her defence, saying:

“I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate this is getting out of hand. If you guys are really fans you wouldn’t be so mean to people that I like.”

Next followed a public spat with his ex, Selena Gomez, who advised him to stop whinging and stop posting pics of his new love – then a few days later, Justin’s account vanished into Instagram heaven (presumably to live happily with the ghost of Ed Sheeran’s social media presence).

What can we learn from this?

Well, for starters, it’s probably not a great idea to feud with your ex in the comments section of Instagram.

But maybe Biebs is on to something. Maybe we should all be taking a bit of a break from social media.

Shockingly, it turns out that all the time we spend staring at screens isn’t amazing for our mental health. The University of Pittsburgh found that the more time people spent on social media, the greater risk they were at of developing depression.

Meanwhile, Anxiety UK conducted a study that suggested people who spent a significant amount of time on social media have increased levels of anxiety and low self-esteem.

Half of the people interviewed said social media had a negative impact on their lives, whether it was because they were negatively comparing themselves to other people or struggling to ever switch off.

The constant pressure of social media; to pick the ‘right’ filter and get the ‘right’ amount of likes, to be seen with the ‘right’ people in the ‘right’ places.

To be funny and smart and interesting and beautiful. And to do all of those things without spilling tea down your front and remembering all your friends birthdays.

It’s frickin’ exhausting.

So this weekend, let’s all be a little more Biebs (but without the face tattoo) and take some time out from social media.

And guys – stay away from your ex’s comments section.

Image: Getty