Hi, friends. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on both the new policy on Instagram (hiding the “like” count on pictures) and why measuring self-worth in numbers is a bad thing.
The Basic Gist & People’s Reactions
This article can catch you up if you’ve no idea what I’m referring to. In summary, we can no longer see how many likes other users have on their photos; we can only see the total on our own photos. In the past, a photo from Billie Eilish (popstar) might have “such-n-such and 3,455,870 others” written underneath it to signify the like count, while Joe Shmoe might have “such-n-such and 8 others” beneath his post. Now, Billie Eilish and Joe Shmoe have the same phrase under their photos–“such-n-such and others.”
Reactions to the change have been mixed. Mental health advocates praise the change because the reduction of competition will help people stop constantly playing a comparison game. Social media influencers and celebrities, many of whom put in work to build their followings, worry their brands will suffer. It seems to me that these viewpoints represent regular users whose self-perception is harmed by an incessant need for validation vs. business people who throw themselves into the internet’s competition for attention and thrive from high like counts (others are attracted to whatever is “going viral” or seems popular; we are mob-mentality creatures).
My Two Cents: Seeing Both Perspectives
I embrace the change because I predict it will facilitate a healthier environment. The owner of IG, Adam Mosseri, said he wants to “depressurize” the platform, and I believe this is a step in the right direction. People will spend less time trying to build up a digital throne–liking lots of pictures so they’ll get lots of likes, only posting flawless photos with perfectly apt, witty captions so they’ll grab the most attention–and spend more time liking things they genuinely like, posting photos without worrying about appearing uncool and unworthy due to low like counts. [A lot of people will still build digital thrones for personal validation, but at least there won’t be as strong a social pressure to do so.]
On the flip side, though, I can understand how influencers feel, especially if sponsorship opportunities are tied to follower and like counts. Mosseri has addressed these concerns, adding they want to find a way for influencers to “communicate values” to businesses. I’m not proud to admit this, but I think I would react negatively if WordPress eliminated the like count for blog posts. Many including myself have tied their self-worth to likes, and yes, I feel validated as a writer/blogger/creator when I get more attention. I suppose it wouldn’t inhibit me from seeing my own like count, though–just the like count of others. Hmm, that could actually be ideal.
Tying self-worth to numbers is so toxic.
For one, we are never satisfied; two years ago, ten likes would’ve made my week, but if I got ten likes on a post now, I’d be bummed. Numbers are infinite, so whether we get 10, 100, 1 k, or 1 mill. likes, we can always desire more. Secondly, we spend extra time feeling bad about ourselves. I know (because I’ve read y’all share your own experiences) that many of us beat ourselves up when we get less views or likes than usual, when we have a stat spike one day then return to our average amount, etc. I’ve been feeling bad lately because my like counts have stagnated in the last year, despite an increasing follower count (perhaps they’re mostly spam).
In a hypothetical world, it’d change the way we use social media and the way we think about ourselves and others if we completely eliminated like counts on everything. Since that won’t happen, perhaps we can try to remember that a digital throne is just that–digital, i.e., not real.
Thanks for reading! What’s your opinion on the IG change or social media validation in general? Let me know in the comments.