the internet

In Praise of the Instagram Egg, Social Media’s Unlikeliest Optimist

It could have been much worse. Photo: @world_record_egg/Instagram

Last night, in the middle of the Super Bowl, the most unlikely social media star proved to be an equally unlikely advocate for good. We’re talking, of course, about the Instagram Egg, officially known as @world_record_egg, which famously beat Kylie Jenner’s record for the most-liked Instagram post.

The egg took full advantage of so many social media neuroses, including the obsession with and disdain for the Kardashian-Jenners, an astounding appreciation for the absurd, and the veil of anonymity and thus mystery that the internet can provide. And then its creator, a 29-year-old ad exec named Chris Godfrey, turned all of that on its head and got to the root of the problem: social media neuroses lead to — surprise, surprise — neuroticism.

This story could have gone a number of ways. Rumors began floating that companies were willing to pay sums in the neighborhood of $10 million to pop out of the egg after a series of new posts began to show cracks in its virtual shell. And the story took an even darker turn amid reports that Jerry Media, the controversial company behind the Instagram account @FuckJerry, had gotten involved. That partnership didn’t pan out.

A Gillette razor or a flat tummy tea could have popped out of the egg. But Godfrey made a bold choice: to use the egg’s popularity to help put a spotlight on nearly a dozen organizations that encourage mental health awareness. (Though there’s no word on whether or not the funds he’s raised from selling egg-related merch will go to these organizations.) Yes, the company did all this in collaboration with Hulu, but so far it doesn’t look as if the streaming service is preparing to launch a show about the trials and tribulations of an internet-famous egg.

To be on social media or even love it is to know that it brings out the absolute worst in people and corporations alike. For proof, look no further than the cautionary tale of Lil Tay, the 9-year-old elementary schooler turned foul-mouthed social media influencer. It’s easy to accept at face value that the internet is an evil thing, but to let it remain so is a choice. There’s no telling whether the egg will always maintain this moral high ground, but at least for a day or two, the internet has become a more thoughtful place.

The Instagram Egg Is Social Media’s Unlikeliest Optimist