Is Instagram "deep liking" the new Facebook flirting?

Cristen Conger

Do you "deep like" @stuffmomnevertoldyou on Instagram? #shamelessplug

Facebook is increasingly becoming the social media platform of the olds. And by "olds," I mean people as young as their late 20s who reside in the outer banks of the gloriously fickle, mobile-obsessed Millennial Generation; in other words, I mean people like me. According to 2012 social media analysis, Facebook is the "third-oldest social platform," behind Yelp and LinkedIn, with only 20 percent of its users under 24. And with that statistic, a couple of hairs at my temple just grayed.

It's no big surprise then that feverish conversation about how romance plays out on Facebook, with earnest analyses on the significance of poking (just don't.), friending and relationship status-updating, has started to shift to other hipper social platforms. Over at Elle, for instance, Anna Deutsch proposed that Instagram flirting is the new new, and that hip guys forgo Facebook friending to instead scroll through women's personal photo collections and "deep like" as a sign of their affection -- or at the very least sexual intention.

That Instagram "deep liking" may be the new Facebook relationship status update makes sense, demographic-wise; as of 2012, a bulk of Instagram users were between 18 and 29 years old. The mobile, fast-scrolling, visual nature of Instagram also appeals to our Millennial media consumption tendencies. After all, it eliminates all of the Facebook profile froth that unnecessarily ornamented what the romantically-inclined really want to get to: the prospect's oh-so-revealing photo feed.

So what is "deep liking" on Instagram? The way Deutsch describes it, it's simply someone liking a whole bunch of photos, probably selfies. And as with any form of flirtation, whether in person or online, deep liking can go wrong:

I've also been Deep Liked in less charming circumstance though, like when a stranger likes pictures of me in a bikini from 15 weeks prior. Or, when my ex-boyfriend goes back and likes images from when we were together, and suddenly in the middle of a random Tuesday, he's made me think about him and that lovely time we had in Italy. Bastard.

If this sounds analogous to a love interest/love hopeful liking a series of Facebook posts or photos, it is. "Deep liking" is merely a new term for an old habit of demonstrating interest via social media interaction. The only catch is that interpreting deep liking may be even more potentially confusing since it certainly isn't a reliable signal that a person wants to deep date you. As Deutsch observes of Instagram: "You can be as voyeuristic and nosy as you want without consequence, and you can offer people a sliver of validation simply by tapping on a photo, no follow up necessary."

Deep like Stuff Mom Never Told You on Instagram @stuffmomnevertoldyou. For more insights on Instagram, listen to our deep-likeable podcast "Generation Instagram."