Teen Talk

Teen Talk: Is a social media fight worth it?

Kelly Richardson
Kelly Richardson Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

DEAR KELLY: One of my friends annoys me so much. She’s always stealing my captions from my Instagram, maybe changes one word or two, then posts it like it’s hers. It drives me nuts. When I asked her why she does that, she said she didn’t and that I don’t own the copyright to every caption or clever saying. It made me mad because she acted like it wasn’t true. We both knew it was because she’s annoying and tries so hard to be popular. Recently I got a cute pair of orange Converse and put something like, “Maybe I’ll wear these to prom.” Three days later, she posts a picture of her with the bottom only of her prom dress and brand new red Converse to match and put, “A match made in heaven #prom.” What made me mad is all the people who said, “So clever” or “Flame,” like her idea was hot or creative. It was my idea. She does things like this all the time and tries to compete with me, and I’m so tired of it but I don’t know what to do.

I want to block her off my Instagram but my other friends say that will make things worse, even though a lot of my friends don’t like a lot of her friends. Or someone said I could start screen shotting what she posts and say things like, “Hmmm … sounds familiar,” or something like that so people know she steals my captions. If I block her and she blocks me, things could get bad but I also want her to know I’m sick of it. Any advice on how to tell her to stop?


DEAR LILY: Would blocking her off your Instagram or publicly calling her out be a shot across the bow or might it be the start of a civil war? If you did this, would it be creating an even bigger issue out of something pretty trivial? My question to you is: Is it really worth it?

Let’s call it fair and say you compete with each other. If you didn’t feel competitive with her, then you wouldn’t care that she uses similar captions to yours. You would probably take it as flattery rather than annoyance if you weren’t threatened by her. My guess is this beef extends beyond just Instagram. Are there other unspoken issues between you?

The simplest way to handle it is to stop putting captions under your Instagram. Try putting “No caption needed” or “No words for this.” Instagram is supposed to be about the picture, so save the clever words and just post the picture.

If you do add a caption, accept the fact that we don’t own captions. Most people steal clever captions off Pinterest or the Internet, so they really aren’t yours to claim. If you steal it from somewhere, others have the right to steal it from you. It’s how the process goes. If her Instagram seems similar to yours, there is nothing you can do to prove she stole it from you. Getting angry is a waste of energy, and all the negative feelings won’t serve you in any way. Don’t let silly little things steal your happiness. Focus on other things in your life than whether or not someone’s Instagram is better or familiar to yours. By re-directing your energy, you may find yourself less annoyed and more able to laugh at things that used to upset you.

Social media has the ability to connect us to other people and to detach us from them. It can mend friendships and it can sever them. Stop letting Instagram control your emotions and affect your relationships. If you get that upset looking at her Instagram, unfollow her. Don’t try and shame or embarrass her – things like that often backfire and create a lot of unnecessary hurt.

Some say, “Imitation is the best form of flattery,” which means if she copies you, she is impressed by you or thinks you’re creative and clever. Isn’t that better than her thinking you are jealous, bitter and envious? Stop while you’re ahead. If she copies you, take it as a compliment. Continue to be yourself and let go of tracking her Instagram to look for comparisons or create drama. In the end, there are no winners.