I know people with a serious Instagram dependency, constantly refreshing their feeds and going down that rabbit hole, again and again. Most of the time, they’re seeing the same posts ad nauseam. It’s a behavior so common, it even has a sardonic name: TechCrunch calls it “zombie browsing,” while McAffee describes it as full-on “Zombie Scrolling Syndrome.” Now, Instagram is reportedly testing a new feature that may not cure undead-level screen addiction, but could be very helpful for the average user.
The new feature, which the company confirmed it is testing to TechCrunch, shows a simple message in the middle of the feed once you’ve seen all of the new posts within a certain timeline: “You’re All Caught Up,” the message says, with the smaller subtitle: “You’ve seen all new posts from the past xx hours.” The text, which appears under a big green check icon against plenty of white space, is a clear visual cue to the user: Maybe you should stop mindlessly scrolling.
In theory, this new feature promotes a more responsible usage of Instagram–something that dovetails with Mark Zuckerberg’s recent pledge to make sure its tools are “used for good.” A warning like this is designed to stop users from the mindless, endless scrolling. Another upcoming new feature, discovered by a researcher and confirmed by Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom last week, will offer “Usage insights” statistics to inform people about exactly how many hours or days they have spent on the Facebook-owned app.
It’s a good idea–but it does feel a bit empty looking at what follows the new warning, according to the screenshot: a “Recent Stories” banner that invites you to “Watch All.” A more effective design choice would have been to just display the message and nothing after it but white space. If the user wanted to continue using the app, they’d need to refresh the entire interface at the very least. If Instagram is serious about curing zombie scrolling, it will need to do more.