Good news if you’re in Russia and just posted an Instagram that no one has liked: There’s a vending machine in downtown Moscow where you can literally buy Instagram likes and followers, Mashable reports.
A photo of the vending machine truly belongs next to the urban dictionary definition of thirsty: “For just $0.89, you can get yourself 100 fake Instagram likes on your brand new picture,” Yvette Tan writes for Mashable. If you’re feeling especially needy you can spend a whopping $850 to buy 150,000 followers. The vending machine also takes selfies and can print existing Instagram photos, a strangely analog twist in this otherwise entirely-digital nightmare.
Sadly, fake followers and likes aren’t new. In 2015, Business Insider reported on a study by Italian security researchers who found that “as many as 8 percent of Instagram accounts are fake spam bots.” These bots are “getting increasingly clever at looking a lot more like active users” in efforts to evade Instagram’s attempts to keep only “real” people online.
But that might not stop the desire for real people to seek out fake followers in efforts to build themselves up online. While we won’t armchair analyze people who are willing to spend that much money on fake likes and follows, we can all agree that the trend doesn’t bode well for our self-worth in the social media age.
Ultimately, it’s important that we try to disconnect quantitative validation — like the number of likes you get on a photo, or how many followers you have — from what actually feeds us. A good place to start is hopping offline and trying to actually connect with people — no purchase of approval required.
Read more on Mashable.
Originally published at medium.com