Instagram has a Close Friends feature in which you can choose to share your Instagram stories only to those of your followers that you have added to your Close Friends list. Now, I use the Close Friends feature a lot, where vast majority of my Instagram stories are only shared to my Close Friends list.
When Instagram first introduced the Close Friends feature in 2018, I wasn't interested in the feature at all, as I wanted as many people as possible to see my Instagram stories. I always shared my stories to all of my Instagram followers. At that time, majority of my Instagram followers were my friends from the 2014-2019 batch of NUMed and my Taylor's College friends. I only shared Instagram stories occasionally, when I had interesting events.
In February and March 2019, I went through a crisis with my group mates in 5th year of MBBS. While I undeniably made mistakes in that crisis, the fact was that my group mates had their mistakes as well. However, they refused to acknowledge any of their mistakes, instead they kept exaggerating my mistakes and sabotaging me. Many others in the 2014-2019 batch simply believed the narratives of my group mates without bothering to get my side of the story, and they disliked and looked down on me. It made me realise I had many fake friends in the 2014-2019 batch, and I no longer valued them.
The crisis contributed to my failure in 5th year of MBBS, which required me to repeat the year by joining the 2015-2020 batch. In my repeat year, I wanted to move on from the crisis and the 2014-2019 batch. I started making many new friends in the 2015-2020 batch. While I didn't know them well in the beginning, I got closer and closer to them as time went on. They gave me a great experience for my repeat year and I liked and valued them a lot.
In December 2019, a guy TL, who was originally from the 2014-2019 batch and was repeating the year as well, started becoming a real annoyance to me. As I was quite nice to him, he kept taking advantage of me. I didn't like being close to him as he didn't have any sincerity in friendship. I preferred mixing with my new friends in the 2015-2020 batch so much more compared to him. I tried to stay away from TL, but he kept trying to stick to me.
In January 2020, TL developed a new habit. Whenever I shared an Instagram story, he would open it using his phone right in front of me and my friends and mock it. He also often spammed my Instagram stories with irrelevant reactions and replies. Those were his desperate attempts to seek my attention as I increasingly avoided him, and I really hated that. To put a stop to that, I could just remove him from my Instagram followers list or even block him from my Instagram, but I didn't want to go to that extent.
At that time, I realised that the Instagram Close Friends feature would be the solution. By sharing my Instagram stories to my Close Friends list, which most definitely wouldn’t include TL, he wouldn't be able to see my stories anymore. I added all my new friends from the 2015-2020 batch and those few of my true friends from the 2014-2019 batch to my Close Friends list. Initially, I shared some of my Instagram stories to my Close Friends list and some to all of my Instagram followers. As time went on, I increasingly used the Close Friends feature, as I felt more comfortable to be in control of who could see my stories.
In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic started and the Movement Control Order (MCO) was soon implemented. NUMed had to suspend all face-to-face classes and clinical placements. Consequently, I couldn't meet my friends in the 2015-2020 batch. I was very sad about that and at that point, I realised they were the ones that mattered most to me among all my friends. My fake friends in the 2014-2019 batch as well as TL were absolutely of no match to them.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought huge disruptions to our daily lives, giving everyone a difficult time. Almost everything posted on the social media was about the Covid-19, and seeing them just made us feel even more stressful. Whenever we came across rare posts and stories that weren't talking about the Covid-19, we would feel better.
To keep in touch with my friends, I decided to update my Instagram story every day. My stories were mostly about my daily life, such as the food I ate, how I kept myself entertained when I was bored and my preparation for the final exams, as well as interesting things I came across on the Internet. I never mentioned anything about the Covid-19 in my stories. I was hoping that my stories would give a sense of normalcy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which would make my friends feel a bit better.
I also decided that moving forwards, vast majority of my stories would only be shared to my Close Friends list. Having known who are my most valuable friends, I felt that only they should see my stories. I always had the habit of checking who has seen my Instagram stories after I shared them. I would love to see the viewer list comprising entirely of those friends that matter a lot to me. It's the quality that matters, not quantity.
Sharing to my Close Friends list would also make my Instagram stories look more special, as they would show up with a distinctive green circle instead of the usual red circle. Since not many people use the Instagram Close Friends feature, my friends would notice my Instagram stories better. When they see that they are in my Close Friends list, they would know that I value them a lot.
Due to the MCO, the MBBS final exams originally scheduled for May 2020 had to be postponed. A few students from the 2015-2020 batch together with a few who were repeating the year came up with a proposal to have the final exams online, so that there wouldn't be delays to the exams and thus our graduation. However, I strongly believed that having the exams online would bring more harm than good, due to unfamiliarity with online exams and the strong possibility of internet connection issues, so I voiced out against their proposal.
A highly questionable poll showed that majority of the batch supported online exams. Unfazed by that, I continued opposing online exams by giving compelling arguments against it, and a few students criticised me for that. I got a bit worried that it might lead to me getting disliked by the 2015-2020 batch, much like what the 2014-2019 batch did to me in the previous year. However, I was confident that I was fighting for the best outcome for the 2015-2020 batch.
One of my close friends then messaged me to state that she and her friends appreciated my efforts in opposing online exams. Some others in the 2015-2020 batch also felt that my opinions were valid. Soon, many in the 2015-2020 batch realised that having online exams was a bad idea and they too were against it. My courage in speaking up against online exams earned their respect. Eventually, NUMed maintained its decision to postpone the final exams rather than having it online.
This incident made it obvious that the 2015-2020 batch is different from the 2014-2019 batch. Most of the 2015-2020 batch are capable of thinking rationally rather than simply making baseless conclusions and disliking someone. It made me love the 2015-2020 batch even more, and I decided to expand my Instagram Close Friends list by adding in all of my followers from the 2015-2020 batch.
The MCO gradually eased starting from June 2020. NUMed was able to resume face-to-face teaching and conduct the final exams in July 2020. I could meet my friends in the 2015-2020 batch once again and I was overjoyed about that. At that time, it had become a habit for me to share Instagram stories to my Close Friends list almost every day, so I continued doing so.
After I completed my MBBS degree, I started working as a Teaching Fellow at NUMed in October 2020. While I didn't know my Teaching Fellow colleagues well in the beginning, I soon became very close to them. Of course, I added them to my Instagram Close Friends list. They were from the 2015-2020 batch as well.
In March 2021, many of my students in NUMed started following me on Instagram. I then decided to add all of them to my Instagram Close Friends list. I really enjoyed my Teaching Fellow job and I had a lot of great memories with my students, so they surely deserved to be in my Close Friends list. That greatly expanded my Close Friends list.
In August 2021, I started working as a House Officer. In the beginning, I struggled to adapt to the House Officer job and I had very few friends in the hospital. Later, as I gained more skills and experience, the situation improved a lot. I became good friends with many of my House Officer colleagues and I added them to my Instagram Close Friends list.
Basically, I only add those of my friends who have meaningful good memories with me or have contributed positively to my personal development to my Instagram Close Friends list. Some may think that I simply add a lot of people to my Close Friends list without second thoughts, but that's not the case in reality.
For the foreseeable future, I will keep sharing vast majority of my Instagram stories only to my Close Friends list.