If You Put Your Instagram Handle on Your Car, Your Profile Should Be Public

If your profile is set to private, then don't even bother including the handle at all.
Kristen Lee

I remember exactly when it happened. I was sitting in traffic with a friend (who was driving), and we both saw a cool car a couple of lanes over. There was an Instagram handle stickered to the window. I immediately pulled out my phone and searched the handle—they had a cool car and we wanted to find out more about it. To our dismay, the account was set to private! And thus this rant was born.

How you decorate your car is your business (though I’ll hold to the fact that bumper stickers are tacky and bad). However, in this age of social media, including your handle is like leaving out a calling card. You cannot expect people not to look you up. And when they find that your profile is set to private, well, you’ve just wasted everyone’s time.

Why would you broadcast your handle like that publicly if you aren’t going to have a profile set to public with which to engage with your new fans? Do you take pleasure in people having to request to follow you? The nerve. That’s like a gallery posting a flyer in the town square advertising a free show and when folks roll up, the gallery is actually closed. The owner just gets a sick sense of pleasure from hearing people try the door, which is locked. Getting folks’ hopes up for nothing.

Here’s the right way to do it. Say you bring your built-up BMW to a Formula Drift event and park it in the show lot. You include your Instagram handle on the rear window. Your profile is set to public because you understand how spectatorship works.

And bam! Look at that: @marv_gts has nearly 100,000 followers—no doubt in part because they make their page viewable and sharable. Smart thinking, Marv.

The only reasons I can think of for advertising your handle on your car while your account is set to private is that you set it to private and just forgot, or you no longer wish your social media presence to be so easily searchable by random people on the street. If that’s the case, why not just remove the sticker, then? It makes no sense.

I understand that giving the general public a way to easily contact you is highly risky behavior—what if they message you something horrific after a traffic altercation? What if they use your public profile to find out where you live? I’m always thinking about stalkers—but if those are your fears (and very legitimate ones at that) why put your handle on your car in the first place at all?

People confuse me.

Do you understand this any better than I do? Email: kristen@thedrive.com