The fundamentals of a mediocre Instagram

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FEBRUARY 05, 2018

Since Oct. 21, 2017, my housemate Anna and I have gotten boba together a total of 16 times. This number does not account for instances of individual purchase and/or consumption, nor all the times we’ve forgotten to record the moment. Nor does it account for Happy Lemon’s grand opening, when we purchased four cups and consumed only one.

Shamefully (or unabashedly — it depends on who you’re asking), my housemate and I run a joint Instagram account dedicated to recording every single time we purchase boba together. Since the account’s inception, we have perfected our aesthetic. Captions are always the date, followed by the same statement: “anna takes a picture of boba with sarah in the background,” which is also pasted into our bio. The cup is always angled the same way, and my pose is scheduled to change every two posts.

Our obsession with maintaining our aesthetic for our overwhelming following of 102 barely engaged friends and acquaintances reflects our shared commitment to rigid structure and careful planning. Our home shows symptoms of our acute sensitivity to the slightest misalignment or miscategorization. The glasses in our cabinet are arranged with military precision. Dinner plates are strictly segregated from salad plates, stemless wine glasses from stemmed wine glasses. Pictures are hung in even rows that were predetermined by a blueprint.

Nearly everything we do, together or not, is meticulously planned, because when we don’t do so, everything falls apart. So when @basicbobabitches was created on a whim to commemorate our surplus of boba, courtesy of Happy Lemon’s grand opening, I fully expected this self-satirization of our love for the drink to be laid to rest with the rest of our poorly planned schemes.

Alas, the account has persisted for the last three months. Boba outings are planned a full day in advance, and schedules are molded around them. I drag myself out of the apartment after a long day so that I can pull out my poor, overworked debit card from my wallet for something that has lost its appeal. I’m trapped in a self-imposed hell of aesthetic rules and predetermined captions, blindly driven by the need to produce fresh content for our adoring fans.

It wasn’t long before I woke up and smelled the coffee. Boba was consuming me faster than I was consuming it, and I wanted out. “BasicBobaBitches,” plural, would have to become “BasicBobaBitch,” singular.

But we were too far in the maze of rules and regulations to pull out. Anna was exploiting our mutual affinity for structure and rigidity to trap me as if she were a constricting serpent, slowly squeezing the life out of our increasingly tenuous friendship and suffocating the probability of renewing my lease. Our parody of our overconsumption of boba had turned around to laugh at our (read: my) suffering. How the turntables.

Perhaps in fear that she would have to rush to replace me with a spring subleaser should I prematurely terminate my lease, Anna has yet to make any direct threats regarding the maintenance of the account. Instead, she has remained loyal to shamefully passive-aggressive tactics.

Over Thanksgiving break, she used my archaic Facebook profile pictures as “fresh content.” When I suggested to Anna that my friends from home could take over her role as photographer over the break, she threatened them with castration. Over the course of a couple of months, I’ve burned hundreds of dollars for near-daily doses of “celebratory boba.” Needless to say, it has been 0 percent sugar, extra ice between us.

But my suffering may not be eternal. Temporary reprieve has come in the form of Anna’s 2018 New Year’s resolution: “no dairy, no sugar.” Though already broken on New Year’s Day itself, her pledge has stymied the steady flow of content on our page — we’ve only posted once since returning to Berkeley. The controlling beast inside her has been quelled by her commitment to keep up her facade of health and transformation.

The prisoner has been released by the ward. No more ridiculous pictures under the scrutinous eye of the public. No more lagging phone cameras looming behind a boba cup. I am free to consume boba only on my own free will. But I’m always on high alert, ever wary that the monster may rear its head and demand fresh content.

Contact Sarah Heo at 


FEBRUARY 06, 2018