Happy Thursday you lovely bunch! Only one more (full) day to go! I hope you’ve all gotten a chance to enjoy some quality time with your loved ones recently over the bank holidays, or even some quality me time (always much needed I find). I, for one, have definitely made the most of chilling out, as you may be able to tell from the lack of content/engaging over here… But honestly, I’ve really needed some good old fashioned R&R. Work as been pretty manic for me over the past few weeks. I just wish that every Monday was a bank holiday! Maybe I need to move to Sweden and adopt that 4 day week vibe? Anyway, I wanted to have a bit of a chat about something I’ve been pondering on, and hearing a lot about over the past week or so.
I mentioned it on my instagram not too long ago, that I found myself staying away from the app completely, and it made me realise how much I wanted to reduce my use of not just instagram, but my phone as a whole. It’s hard to find a balance these days between making the most of your life, wanting to document it (because it’s so incredible that we have the opportunity to do so for our future reminiscing selves!), and sharing for sharing’s sake. The highlight reel is a dangerous concept, but naturally as humans we shy away from sharing our own negatives, despite so many people exposing them in others. It’s odd, and it’s quite poisonous. As a result of this, a lot of people’s relationship with instagram is bordering on un-healthy, and a many of us need to work on that.
I’m sure you’ll already of heard a fair bit about it by now, but one of instagram’s many potential trials has been announced in the past week or so, and it’s probably one of their most controversial yet. Since getting rid of the lovely chronological algorithm at least. Instagram announced they are trialing hiding the number of likes on people’s posts. Now, instagram trial crazy things all of the time, which often come apparent in the form of random glitches on our end as the users, so who knows if this is something that will pick up as a permanent feature or not, but, it’s definitely a really interesting topic to discuss as the instagram generation. It really got me thinking about how seriously this app is affecting our mental health.
Instagram is one of the biggest tech companies on the planet. One that most of us focus our attention on for hours each and every day. The fact that they have dedicated in house teams looking into making dramatic changes to improve the footprint of their app on the mental health of the average user, is amazing. But it’s worrying that we have gotten to a point with our usage where that is an absolute necessity. Chasing likes, battling the algorithm, and a constant internal comparison of popularity have become the norm in our day to day lives. Whether you use socials for a living, or for ‘fun’. Granted, it effects some people a lot more than others, there has to be a correlation between anxiety and time spent on instagram. I know that I get it, along with a weird pressure to post regularly (& only at certain times!), not to mention the worry of how many people my post will reach that day and how embarrassing it is to not get many likes. And I don’t use it all that much at all. And I am also very aware that it’s only an app, they are only numbers on a screen, and there are so many bigger things to worry about in this life. It’s ridiculous in the grand scheme of things, but it’s become such a serious problem for so many young people.
Hiding instagram likes would mean that only the user posting the image can see the amount of likes as part of their insights. The post would show to others scrolling past as simply “Liked by madeinthe1990s & others” for example. Honestly I think it’s a wonderful idea for so many reasons. First one being it would really take away the worry of judgement from people when you have a day of really shocking engagement. Sometimes the likes fly in and your reach is as good as can be, but let’s face it, more often than not for me now its utter crap. I’ve never been one to delete a post if it does’t perform well, I feel a bit weird about people doing that, so long as you’re happy with the content you put out, it should really matter how many likes it got. But, and there is always a but, I can’t lie and say it’s not shit when no one likes it. So removing that from the followers line of sight would save my dignity a bit at least, and problem even relieve the posting pressure as I would stop trying to chase likes.
Nevertheless, like with anything new that surfaces, there are also negatives and uncertainties about how on earth hiding instagram likes would work. Mainly for those who use the app as part of their career, as Sophie and Millie discussed on Keeping it Candid. It would remove an element of transparency in terms of ranking your worth, but in todays climate of buying likes and fake followings, I really don’t think it would cause any more of a problem. And maybe, just maybe, people would stop faking it on instagram.
However, one of the biggest positives for me on this is the impact it would have on young users. School kids in-particular. I was fortunate to be born just on the cusp of this whole technical revolution that we’ve been through, which means I got off lightly in school in the way that social Media was an absolute newborn baby and we didn’t really use it. Sure we had mySpace and Bebo in the early high school years, and facebook came on the scene towards the end of my time at school, but it was still very much a safe place back then. People used it on their family PC’s for a few hours after school and then logged off and that was it. Apps weren’t invented yet and smartphones didn’t even exist. I was lucky to have any credit left on my beloved Samsung slide phone (RIP). Reminiscing on this just makes me feel sorry for the kids in school nowadays. Kid’s have this whole online world in their pockets to use as they please, and let’s face it, kids can be mean. The popularity contest that runs through the school systems in the western world was difficult enough to navigate through in my day a decade ago, they really don’t need online popularity in the mix to add to that.
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Kids are highly impressionable, and cyberbullying is now a really serious problem off the back of social media becoming such prominent part of their lives. The negativity attached to social media has ultimately developed into the place it’s in now because of the way we, as users, have manipulated it. So I definitely think the apps need to start making changes at their end to reduce the toxicity that they can so often pump into the users minds.
I really do hope this trial works out for the big IG, as something really has got to give with that platform. Users are generally not happy at all with the algorithm and the way the app works at the moment, so changes need to happen, and I personally think this one would do wonders for everyone anxiety and relieve that popularity content that we’ve all entered. Even just a little bit. When it comes to mental health, every little bit really does help and can make a HUGE difference somewhere to someone. And because of that, I am totally here for hiding instagram likes.
Where do you stand?