TBT Etiquette

In preparation for Throwback Thursday, some guidelines you may want to consider.


When I last counted, there were 36,268,997 photos shared to Instagram using the hash tag “ThrowbackThursday.” That’s not even counting the 356,792,235 photos shared using the abbreviated version of that same hash tag, “tbt.” Consider the millions of botched hash tags in between and I reckon we can confidently attest that Throwback Thursday is perhaps the single most popular Instagram installment since the unveiling of the app itself.

Make no mistake though, I am wholly committed to executing Selfie Saturday.

What seemingly started as a harmless clock back, initiated by nostalgic narcissists (not unlike myself), to more primitive, diaper-laden days has catapulted into an outrageous revolution. One that often leaves me scrolling through my Instagram feed on Thursday mornings to find only an inundation of sometimes creative, often nonsensical photos with the corresponding hash tag. While scrolling this past week and taking mental note of the babies in bonnets, celebrities flashbacks, and irreverent #throwbacksixteensecondago’s (fine, that idiotic one was mine), it occurred to me that there is no code of etiquette for Throwback Thursday.

Why do we need a code of etiquette, you might ask. Because in this day and over-exploited age, Instagram users are seemingly convinced that anything is fair game on Throwback Thursday. But is the footie-gram of the shoes you bought six months really ever a Throwback Thursday? No. In light of the listed difficulties, the mere technicality that tomorrow is Thursday, and because I do shit imminently, here’s a list of ten TBT-fails.


In no particular order:

1. Really, really, angelic baby pictures. Yes, you were cute as shit. But that was then and this is now. Show us something funny, have you ever thrown up on your brother? Yourself? This digital holiday was practically founded on the principles of comedy. Seize it.

2. Throwbacks to that month in college you had a rather violent stomach virus and as such appeared 15 pounds lighter than you do now, accompanied by a caption that says something along the lines of “OMG, we were suck dorks! LOL!” Look, I was skinnier in college too. But if I’m going to draw attention to my deceased chiseled abs, I’m also going to make it clear that I am doing just that. This way, at least we can hate me together, right?

2a. Perfectly sun-kissed photos apply in this bracket too. You’re not really posting that one because you’re standing in front of a Jonathan Taylor Thomas poster, are you?

3. Throwbacks to a wedding. It’s sweet that you’re married, really, we’re so happy for you. But why are you telling your network how much you love your husband, by way of telling him how much you love him, (see: “Love you hun! Five beautiful years days!”) when his face doesn’t even show in the photo. This picture is about how great you looked with that face painted on, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?

4. According to one friend, a Throwback Thursday picture should only exist if it’s pulled from an actual film photo. According to myself, this only rings true if you were alive during the age of actual film photos. The supposition is that if you’re throwing back, you’re commemorating a vintage moment, and digital files aren’t particularly vintage. Said friend continues, “neither is a picture you wish you could have posted to Facebook before Instagram existed.”

5. Celebrity Throwbacks. Is Ryan Gosling chewing your face off? Probably not. Are you trying to demonstrate how extensive your bank of celebrity comrades extends? That’s shitty. Us mere mortals are still filtering our pre-paternal dads in bell bottoms.

6. Time, too, is of the essence. On the one hand, you probably shouldn’t be hash tagging throwback Thursday pictures when it’s not Thursday (disclaimer: I do this). On the other, you should not be posting upward of, say, two in a single Thursday. Why blow your load in one shot? Also, do people really want to see the inner-workings of your childhood? I learned the hard way that breast-feeding photos are not popular.

7. Hash tagged throwback Thursday images that aren’t even throwbacks, rather just an over-excessive, over-excited use of the popular hash tag incorporated to find yourself on the search page. That is deceptive and I have to wonder if you are one such denizen offering shout outs and follow-for-follows.

8. Irreverent Throwback Thursdays to, say, the previous Thursday. (Disclaimer: I’m guilty of this one too). There is a gap of time (let’s say five years) that should be respected between the photo’s inception and its appearance on Instagram.

9. On this note, I also wonder about “selfie Throwbacks.” How far can you be throwing shit back if the original photo is one you took on your iPhone, for Instagram, at some point in time that cannot predate 2010.

10. And finally, the last is a do. Do post the most uncomfortable, awkward, compromising photos you can find of yourself. Because Throwback Thursday will almost only ever be interesting and applicable to the people who know you, at least give the people who don’t a reason to believe that you, too, were a weird little critter and let that freak flag fly.

My gut tells me you are far funnier than I am so please, impart the lacking wisdom. What do you like/dislike most about TBT?

#TBT to these #TBTs on Barbie’s bangs, Jil Sander Spring 2011, and Vitamin C.

Get more Humor ?
  • Keely

    You hit all the nails on all the heads- it’s just fishing (“PLEASE TELL ME I’M PRETTY!!!!”) and that’s just cheap and not fun for anybody. Why so much need to be validated by other people?

    I’d much prefer to see the puke pictures.

  • nia

    let’s not forget #latergram

    and #6 is my biggest pet peeve every thursday it’s a string of baby photos one after the other i choose to avoid thursdays like the plague unless i’m checking how many people liked my very own #tbt (narcissism at its finest)

    • latergram is the worst. like all of the sudden the digital world is
      super obsessed with temporal accuracy? we’ll allow you the loose
      interpretation of insta.

  • As usual, your hilarious/sarcastic/don’t-give-a-crap way of writing had me hooked onto every word. At the risk of sounding creepy, I seriously hope we meet one day. Until then, I shall peruse your every post! XOXO


  • mickharper

    In terms of #5, I did a StarTrek Deep Space Nine cast throwback once. Is that allowed? Thanks for replying Leandra!

    • alliemh29

      Mick Harper, after your candle exposé on ITG, I think a post on MR is now in order.

  • Elissa

    I say if you don’t look different, it’s not a throwback!

  • what i really want to know is why throwback thursday took off and flashback friday faltered?


  • OMG Love this post!!!! More Etiquette posts please 🙂

    My TBT pet peave is when people put up like, 20 pictures, pick one or two funny ones, I don’t feel like looking through your old family albums.

    • Liz Lizo

      I know right, one after another taking over your feed.

  • GLUE

    “I learned the hard way that breast-feeding photos are not popular.” – bless your soul you freakish weirdo.

  • Dina

    You forgot to mention those who upload a picture that they have already previously uploaded on Instagram because they just want to remind you how good they looked that one time… In case you missed it!

    • maxii

      lol your’e right

      • maxii

        oh. mygod. i mean “you’re”. please forgive me

  • CrissyM

    so much truth the TBT’s, I agree with you 1000% thank you for posting this!
    Graffiti Mimosa

  • Jennifer

    I think you’re taking this too seriously. Who cares how people use or abuse a has tag?

    xo Jennifer


  • Sarah E

    amazing list of dos and donts! I was laughing the whole time.



  • #2 Motherfucker. You all look the same to me.

  • Madison L.

    Okay, so this has absolutely nothing to do with this post but your husband, Abie Cohen looks EXACTLY like Mike Fiola (give or take a few years, but most likely give) from the MTV series Awkward. Gosh you don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to say that. I’m glad I got it out. Please google him and compare, I would love to know if you see the resemblance!

    • Madison L.

      Mike Faiola*

  • I think that as soon as an hashtag becomes popular there is a crowd of teenagers ready to put that goddamn hashtag on ALL their dumb pics! Every time I look for something 2 out of 6 pictures are just selfies of hashtag-abusers. I hate it! But please launch the Selfie Saturday, I would be funny!


  • fashion

    good looking fashionable men and women love it sunning


  • All hail the queen of #TBT. If only we were all so lucky to have parents who took the cutest/humiliating/embarrassing photos of us as yours did of you and your brothers. Kudos for posting the worst ones! I laugh every time.

  • debbywarner

    People –> you have way too much muthafucking time on your hands…

    Puke photos = funny. Too bad farts aren’t photographable.

  • Romina C

    This is quite harsh for a TBT post, but I do agree with some of your points! I guess the “Throwback” also appears differently to people. So for some it might look interesting (is not).


  • Friday had enough going for it

  • Lacey Jo Braun

    You forgot the do of throw backs to those horrifically majestic fashion moments that will never again be acceptable due to the intense nature of each individual element of the outfit, i.e. crimped hair, crop tops, biker shorts, and neon jelly sandals. The glory days….

    • Chelsea

      What? Those aren’t acceptable anymore?

  • Nicoletta Italian blogger

    It’ s right, for me is more difficolt, I’m Italian and hash tag are english composed words… Easy??????????help me!!!!! http://www.facciadastile.it

  • If your throwback Thursday isn’t ironic (see: my last throwback where I pretend my friends and I are in our other life’s hanging on the wall as paintings) is it really a throwback?

  • Cat

    I once took a wrong turn on Instagram (thanks Kelly Oxford!) and ended up on @KimKardashian ‘s page on a Thursday. Fuck. If only she had done #3 instead of all the others (and more! all in one day!), at least it would have been funny.

  • Guest

    Would this do?

  • Lisa Simone Daniels
  • Betsie

    I personally think “remember whensday” would be the best

  • ana romero

    hahahahahaha, I love you because you normally write what we are already thinking but didn’t have the courage to say at loud. Kisses http://www.rockafollow.com

  • “2. Throwbacks to that month in college you had a rather violent stomach virus and as such appeared 15 pounds lighter than you do now, accompanied by a caption that says something along the lines of “OMG, we were suck dorks! LOL!” Look, I get it, I was skinnier in college too. But if I’m going to draw attention to my deceased chiseled abs, I’m also going to make it clear that I am doing just that. This way, at least we can hate me together, right?”

    hahahahhaha THIS is awesome. This is exact excerpt is why i ADORE you.

  • kerrin

    AMEN TO FILM. absolutely necessary for #tbt.

  • Evanaa

    Just left a picture of this blog post… May or may not have hashtagged throwbackthursday. Five years is too long! 😛


  • Love this! Seriously so hilarious, loved the commentary and definitely agree with it all. Let’s keep the tbt to film photos and hilariously awkward moments of our past lives!

  • Kate

    This made me laugh out loud five times.

  • I’m new to Instagram, so I’ll keep your rules for #tbt in mind.

  • Guest

    what about that one time you had, like OMG totally, the WORST 6th grade haircut ever? and your turtle neck matched your moms? (disclaimer: i don’t look too much different unfortunately).

  • This was hilarious!


  • chezsasha.com

    I think the photo has to be at least 5 years old. That seems to be the perfect amount of time for things to change enough to be considered a throwback.
    And baby photos are okay but they have to be distinct. I mean, we all look the same when bald and diapered…

  • Lilli

    forget #tbt or #throwbacks. Lets discuss selfie photos with the hashtags #hot #pretty #poserlol #gangsta etc etc…. are you (selfie taker) implying that you are all of the above or that we should think you are because the hashtag says so?

  • Guest

    Also … if Will Smith was to #tbt everyone would think he was doing no.7 because he hasn’t aged

    • kath d

      same goes for pharrell

  • Lilli

    also if Will Smith was to #tbt everyone would think he was doing a no.7

  • Lust Covet Desire

    OMG the girl with the cake, love you. These are all valid points. I consider anything 5 years ago a “throwback”.


  • someone tell kim kardashian that throwback thursday is not just for her to post post-preg pictures because she’s so upset with her weight gain!

  • someone tell kim kardashian that throwback thursday is not just for her to post post-preg pictures because she’s so upset with her weight gain!

  • Please if its a tbt at least let the photo be more than 5 years old, if not its not a ‘throwback’! There is tbt because we want to marvel at how we were like when we were much younger, not how we were like a week ago.


  • hadley

    what about flashback friday?! so confused as to what to throwback and when to flashback

  • It’s Monday, but I totes wanna get on this wagon, I love my childhood pics. I made my parents so miserable, bless them.
    By the way, those are panties on my head. That was one of my favorite outfits as a kid. Natural born fashionista right here.

  • Carolyn

    What does this have to do with fashion?

  • Well…my gripe about TBT is that people go overboard…do we really need 10 pics back to back? I mean save some for new thursday… Is the picture even cool enough to have been posted again? or whatever. I don’t know…IG is annoying from time to time to me…TBT is that annoying time for me.

  • “Hash tagged throwback Thursday images that aren’t even throwbacks”

    what a joke! i dont think everyone understands the concept of throwback

  • Dy Ann

    I always post selfie posts on IG.Guilty as charged. Used to ignore throwbacks, tbt, and flashback friday Just cause I don’t know the rule so yah. I always search about the right hashtag before I start doing so. This is a good post. I was looking for the difference of flashback friday and tbt. Anyhow, I wanna know about LATERGRAM. How late is allowed in LATERGRAM?

    • Dy Ann

      selfie photos I mean

  • Marianne Ronsse

    I realize this is a very old post, but it appeared for some reason in my newsfeed on facebook and I just have this to say: this should also apply to the use of the #foodie hashtag! a bowl of breakfast cereal or toast with nutella does not qualify as “foodie-worthy”! damn.

  • Captain Planet

    If these are the true results yielded by a #throwbackthursday search, monsieur Kurdistan is painting the least disturbing picture of humanity. Just sayin.