Instagram questions: the good, the bad and the ugly

Ah, Insta stories – the playground of filtered selfies, those damn holiday snaps, and pics of green smoothies. (Does anyone really like kale?)

We road-tested the new ‘Ask me a question’ feature with a bunch of young people to find out more about how it works, what to expect, and what you should do if someone uses it in a not-so-nice way.

The good

Insta questions can be a fun way to interact with your friends and followers – and who doesn’t enjoy a bit of Insta attention?

It can be an interesting way to get to know a bit about the people you follow, too. When someone you admire opens up on Insta questions, it’s a reminder that there’s a real person behind that perfect feed.

‘This “Ask a question” feature, to some extent, can bridge the mental gap between one person and another – i.e. [I can] think of them as a real person, not just a perfect, popular Insta model.’ – Brianna, 22.

Questions aren’t anonymous, so you can also see who has asked what – which may be either a good thing or a bad thing.

‘I like the fact that when you receive the question, it isn't anonymous, but it is when it’s posted. The user can then decide whether or not they reveal who asked the question.’ – Jai, 19.

The bad

So, you’ve posted the ‘Ask me a question’ filter and no one’s asking you anything. That can make you feel a bit crap in itself, not to mention the constant checking to see if anyone has sent you a question.

Or someone may have asked you a personal question that makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember, you don’t have to share anything you don’t want to. It helps to be clear about what questions you’re okay with answering. For example, you might be cool with answering trivial questions (‘What’s your fave ice cream?’, say) but not ones about your friends or family.

‘It can mean a lot of private information is shared (or even just put online and not shared) and this might lead to stress or the sense of being judged by others.’ – Brianna, 22.

Insta questions also mean that you could be asked pretty much anything, and sometimes those questions sting. While the questions aren’t anonymous, only you see them at first so people might ask you things that make you feel bad.

‘Personally. I think it’s stupid. It opens the door for keyboard warriors to do what they do best, which is taunt people.’ – Mat, 19.

If it’s affecting you, take a mini break from Insta and do something nice for yourself.

The ugly

Sometimes the questions do more than sting: they can be downright horrible. When abusive comments are masked as ‘questions’ (think: ‘Why are you so ugly?’ or ‘Did you know that Jess hates you?’), it’s bullying, which is never okay.

There are steps you can take If you’re being bullied on Instagram. And remember that you don’t ever have to deal with the situation alone.

What to do if you’re being bullied

1. Block and report the person doing the bullying.

The first step is to block the person on Instagram so they can’t contact you again, and report them so that they’re flagged by the Instagram admins. It’s also smart to take screenshots of the abuse before you delete it, so that you have evidence if needed.

‘Block and report them if it’s harassing, and try not to take it to heart.’ – Ashlea, 23.

2. Ignore them

Online abusers love it when you fight back, so it annoys them if you just ignore them. See more of our tips for dealing with trolls here.

3. Remember that it’s not about you

If someone says anything mean to you online, remember that it reflects more on them than on you.

4. Talk to someone

If the trolls are getting you down, it can help to talk to someone you trust. Work out what you want to say first, and if the person don’t give you the kind of support you’re looking for, try speaking to someone else.

‘Talk to someone you trust about the feelings the questions bring up and about why that person could have asked that question. Also, remember that people are meaner online because they don't have to tell/ask you these things face-to-face.’ – Jai, 19.

5. Give yourself a break from Insta questions

If you’re upset by what’s being asked on Insta questions, take a break from using the feature. When you’re feeling better, you can decide whether or not you want to use it again.

‘Block the people that asked the mean questions, because no one needs that negativity in their life. I'd also maybe not use the feature for a while, or again, depending on the questions asked.’ – Jai, 19.

What can I do now?

  • Read up on how to spot a troll, so you're ready if any trolls pop into your Insta Qs.

  • Take a break from sosh med and focus on a little self-love with one of these self-care ideas.

  • If an Instagram question is getting you down, it can help to talk to someone you trust. Find out how to do that here.