I have a confession to make: I lurk. But I don't feel ashamed admitting this, because I know that you lurk, too. Everyone does it. I'll click on the tagged friend of a friend, or I'll open up my explore tab on Instagram, and two hours later I'm looking at photos from the 2015 wedding of an Ohio woman whom I've never met, never will meet, and couldn't even explain my connect to if I tried. However, it seems that I am only a recreational lurker, because I just discovered that, according to MEL Magazine, some people use anonymous Instagram accounts, or "lurkstas," for their lurking, and you're going to want to sit down while I explain this one.
What is the point of a "lurksta," you ask? After all, it's not like Instagram notifies the object of your lurking after you visit their profile (unlike that jerk LinkedIn). But not all accounts are public, so if you want to check up on what your ex is doing (or who they're doing) nowadays, you might have to follow your ex on Insta, which is awkward. Hence the birth of the lurking account, or "lurksta," which is used for the sole purpose of seeing the posts and stories of whomever it is that you're reluctant to actually follow. Make sense?
The most important part of the "lurksta" account is that it looks legit. Just like a catfish account, a lurking account must include a profile picture (of a rando, of course, because including a photo of yourself would defeat the purpose) and usually enough followers to avoid suspicion (because who's going to accept a follow request from someone who has no followers of their own?).
As 28-year-old data analyst Todd explained to MEL Magazine, creating an authentic "lurksta" account is truly an art. After he set up his lurking account with a different email address than his real account (not wanting the "lurksta" to link to his Facebook, of course), he made the account private and changed his profile picture to a photo of a random girl from Tinder. Then it was time for the finishing touches. "I posted a bunch of generic photos so that the account would look active," he revealed, "then I followed a bunch of spammy ad accounts who immediately followed back in order to look like I had real followers.” I applaud your dedication, Todd.
Once you've got your "lurksta," then you can lurk away without fear of your activity being detected. You can attempt to request a private profile that you're hoping to view, or you can follow public accounts to fill your feed with whatever you desire, or you can simply peruse without actually following any accounts. The choice is yours, lurksters. As sketchy as it sounds, the whole objective is simply freedom from judgement. After all, why shouldn't you be able to look at whatever accounts you want without your friends and family being any the wiser?
Let's get into specifics. As mentioned, it could be a private profile that you're trying to access, such as that of an ex-lover or an ex-friend. Or perhaps you want to fill your newsfeed with half-naked hotties without your SO getting jealous (or your friends getting judgmental). It could also be the case that the models, celebrities, and whomever you choose to follow reveal something about your sexual preferences that you'd rather keep private. You could have anyone from your coworker to your great-aunt (who inexplicably has an Instagram account) following you, after all. Do they all need to know what you're into?
But this does present a bit of a moral quandary, especially when it comes to hiding your Instagram activity from your partner. I can't say with any certainty whether "liking" a photo of a sexy model is considered infidelity, but even if you're just looking, does the fact that you're hiding it make it wrong? If you're feeling guilty about your activity, then having a "lurksta" might not be the best choice for you.
Elite Daily reached out to Instagram about the prevalence of "lurkstas," but alas, a rep replied that the company doesn't have any research around lurking accounts, which I suppose is to be expected. Lurksters do everything they can to keep their activity private, so if Instagram doesn't even know they exist, then they're doing their job well. I'm all for lurking, but just think before you lurk. Remember: if it feels wrong, then you might want to consider the intentions behind your lurking.