Likes, the online markers of social status, is one of the most important numbers nowadays. However, social media giant Instagram is starting to realize the damaging effects of likes. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, says that the goal of removing likes is “to reduce pressure on people” and “not make Instagram a competition.”
Users of the app have complained since it’s creation in 2010 that worrying about the number of likes on their post ruins their self esteem. In July of 2019, Instagram decided to handle the issue by running an experiment in countries that included countries Brazil, Australia, Japan, and more. Users undergoing the experiment were still able to see who liked their post, but a number won’t be posted. Of course, they can still manually count, if they want to take the time.
“I feel like they should remove them because so many people put their self worth in how many likes they have on Instagram, and that’s a really toxic mentality,” said senior Julia Dahl. “Your value shouldn’t come from a number.”
It’s typically understood that the most impacted group is from the ages of 13-25, since they are the age range which grew up on social media and make up a majority of the users, but this is not always the case.
“Honestly, I really don’t care,” junior Natalie Bennett said. “I don’t post for likes and it irritates me when people say they only post for the clout. I’ve never really cared about them, so either way, it wouldn’t really affect me. I would just still like to see who saw my posts.”
However, there are many arguments for keeping likes shown on Instagram. One group who is very “pro” likes, is social media influencers. These are people who promote themselves on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, and influence their followers to take them as an example of how to act, what to buy, wear, etc.
“Some people use Instagram for profit, so they are dependent on likes to earn money,” senior Vivian Burgos said. “I think since you have the option to have a business account on Instagram, they should still be allowed to know their number of likes, but maybe more privately. On the other hand, Instagram does promote body dissociation and other self-esteem related issues, so I could see why they would want to get rid of likes.”
One major factor of getting rid of likes would be body image. There have been tons of reported incidents over the last ten years caused by body image impacting both teens and adults alike. Mental health problems, physical disorders, and even suicides have been notoriously linked to the use of social media.
The main target of the incidents are typically seen to be females. It seems a little ironic– young girls are shamed online for being too young, but then are also harrassed for looking too old.
“Who hasn’t been affected by comparing themselves to others online?” art teacher Jennie Drummond said. “I think we share the best parts of our lives on social media, but by doing that, and creating social media sites that encourage that, leads to further alienation. I have definitely noticed a shift in how students present themselves since the rise of social media apps.”
There doesn’t seem to be a happy median– you’re always humiliated regardless of what you post, wear, how you act, etc.
This is what Mosseri and other heads of big-name social sites are starting to realize. While likes may not remove the issues completely, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, and actions similar to this one should be considered by all social media giants alike.