In the era of social media, it is no surprise that most millennial’s and teens likely spend up to 80% of their time on Instagram, scrollingmeaninglessly through their favourite celebrities’ Instagram feed to see what they have been up to.
In late 2017, Facebook published a report which looked at whether social media is good or bad for us, which concluded that, used correctly; social platforms can facilitate valuable connections. Unfortunately that is not the case, as we hardly use social media for its intended purpose. Instead most millennial’s and teens use it as a means of self-validation, and spend an inordinate amount of time and resources to get that perfect selfie, and rely on the number of likes and shares the post gets, to determinewhether or not they personally are of value.
Instagram recently conducted a social media experiment where they removed the like counts from posts, allowing only the creator of the post to see their total number of likes in order to reduce the focus on vanity metrics. Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking service, is often used by millennial’sto portray a perfect, almost unrealistic image of themselves for the sake of likes and shares. Many face-altering and body editing applications have been developed for Instagram in order for users to edit and filter their images to the level of certain celebrities and influencers, all in the name of likes.
Unfortunately, these impossible standards have led to a lot of self- image and self-esteem issues for many impressionable users on the application. Considering that Instagram is the most used application after Snapchat, removing the like button could help a lot of teens struggling with their self- image. One often hears people talking about the fact that they do not log on to Instagram because it leaves them depressed and makes them question what exactly they are doing with their lives, as women their age are,-“living their best lives”. But what most fail to realise is that most Instagram users only post the best part of their lives or the parts they believe the world should see. Various studies have linked Instagram usage to mental health concerns. According to a survey conducted in 2017, “Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing”, with the platform contributing to higher levels of anxiety and depression, amongst other issues. And when you consider that teens regularly delete Instagram posts which don’t get enough likes, it’s clear that such metrics are contributing to these concerns.”
Alas, removing the like button might not sit well with most influencers who use the application to drive their personal brand and make themselves more appealing to brands that wish to endorse them. As noted by TechCrunch , Instagram’s feed algorithm relies on likes as a measure of a post’s popularity – so even if they’re not as visible, they’ll still be a point of focus for those looking to increase their exposure and boost their following. Andrew Hutchins an author from SocialMediaToday said “The point of this change is not related to such use, at least not directly – the users Instagram is trying to protect are the everyday people who compare themselves to the like counts on other posts. It would mean that likes are still a key element, but the reduced exposure could lessen the pressure on people to use it as a measure of perceived popularity, making them feel less self-conscious about what they share”.
Although it might not be met with open arms by most users, the removal of likes could help with the self-value that most teens and millennial’s place on these likes, and potentially shift their focus from social media validation to using the application for its actual intended focus, engaging with other users.