Michelle was scrolling through Instagram late one night when she decided to take a walk down memory lane and look at some old DMs with an ex.
The next morning, the 24-year-old New Yorker noticed something odd: Her ex had been bumped to the top of her DMs, even though they hadn't messaged in months.
So, she opened it...and saw just about the worst thing you can see in a months-old DM with an ex.
"I had sent him a heart last night," she told BuzzFeed News. "And he had seen it. It said 'seen' right underneath."
Michelle pretty quickly realized there was nothing she could do. She decided she was better off not following up with an explanation.
"He didn’t say anything, so I wasn’t going to say anything," she said. "We just never talked about it."
The Instagram DM heart sits in all its precarious glory on the bottom right of the DM screen, just a shaky finger-spasm tap away from the photo button and text box.
DMs and their associated hearts can be unsent (just press and hold, and select "unsend"), but many users remain unaware of this feature. Regardless, it's often too late, and the recipients see the heart before their sender can do damage control.
Introduced during a 2015 redesign of Instagram Direct messaging, the heart operates as a convenient sort of "like" button, much like Facebook Messenger's thumbs-up button.
But in spite of its ostensible handiness (who hasn't felt socially obligated to reply to a DM but had nothing of substance to say?), the heart's easy tappability has led to countless social media horror stories.
Niamh Furness, a 19-year-old in Nottingham, England, told BuzzFeed News she also went through an Instagram DM heart ordeal — and it got real awkward, real fast.
Around 1 a.m. one night, she was telling a friend about a guy at her college who had recently sent her a DM "that was a little weird."
"He’d just sent me a message saying that I had beautiful feet after posting a selfie," said Furness. "Kinda weird thing to say to someone the first time you talk to them and when the only thing on my Instagram is my face and pets."
While pulling up the message to show her friend, she accidentally tapped the heart. She was mortified.
To make matters worse, the guy replied minutes later with a kissy-face emoji and a "heyyyy." The kissy-faces kept coming for two days, Furness said.
"I couldn’t bear to look at it out of embarrassment after that and eventually deleted the chat every time he’d send me a new message so I didn’t have to open them," she said.
Originally a fan of the Instagram DM heart, Furness said this ordeal convinced her it should be done away with altogether.
"Like, I can just use the heart emoji if I need to," she said. "I’d rather take two seconds longer to find a heart when I need it than have them sent accidentally to people when I don’t want them sent."
Furness isn't the only person rallying for the Instagram DM heart's destruction.
More than 140 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on Instagram to "remove the heart button."
"The amount of times unknowning [sic] people have accidentally pressed this button during conversations is immeasurable, and ultimately leads to an annoying explanation to the person receiving said heart or a very awkward conversation," reads the petition.
The petition also argues that the existence of such a button "simply makes people lazy."
"This heart simply has no meaning anymore and is used as a lazy way to say that you like something or say goodbye," the petition says.
Several of the petition signers shared their own tragedies that have occurred at the hand of the Instagram DM heart.
"On numerous occasions I have been in very intense arguments, where I threw out sick roasts, but due to this unfortunate button I have been degraded," one signer wrote. "Countless times I have clicked the heart button on accident and shown to my nemeses weakness and desire for peace and love."
"That stupid button," one signer simply said.
When it comes to accidental Instagram DM hearts, the possibilities for embarrassing yourself are truly endless.
Jay, a 21-year-old from Hawaii, said she was communicating with her boss over DM about a work event. She hit the heart button, thinking it would "like" his last message to confirm she'd heard him and end the conversation.
"Instead, it sent him a big red heart," Jay said. "And it was so awkward, I didn't even comment about it afterwards, so I just left him with the big red heart."
Fortunately, the awkwardness didn't last, and nothing changed between them at work — well, except for one thing.
"We've never had a convo through the DMs ever again," said Jay. "He just calls or texts my phone now if anything."
Another person, who asked to remain anonymous, said she sent a whole string of hearts to a dealer while trying to buy some weed.
"Keep in mind I was desperately trying to be cool in this situation, and I could not for the life of me stop sending these Insta hearts," she said.
She quickly unsent all the hearts and hoped he wouldn't notice — but of course, he did, as she soon found out from a mutual friend.
"Since he was a friend of a friend, he asked her why I kept sending him hearts," she said. "But hey, I got my weed! And never talked to him again."
For some, the heart has even ruined the beloved pastime of Instagram creeping.
"I was on Instagram and a guy that I went on a retreat with freshman year of college four years ago had just gotten married, so I was on his profile looking at their wedding photos," said Lea Nell Dungo, a 22-year-old from Tyler, Texas.
While scrolling through the pics, a friend started messaging Dungo. Things got mixed up, buttons got pressed, and lo and behold, she sent the newly married guy a heart.
"No context, just married to his wife, haven’t spoken to this dude since the retreat. It was not fun," she said. "I kept checking every like five minutes to see if he had seen it or blocked me or something, but he didn’t do anything."
While the only thing hurt was her dignity, Dungo now firmly believes the Instagram DM heart "should be removed completely."
"I mean, does anyone need that shortcut?" she said. "Can’t we all just take a few more seconds and scroll through the emojis if we really wanna send a heart, and save the rest of us the embarrassment of accidentally clicking it?"