Earlier this year, Instagram announced that they are making an effort to consciously create ways to avoid adding pressure to users concerning their mental health. The platform developers were aware that users were feeling intense pressure to get more likes than other accounts. Their overall mental health suffered from being obsessed over followers number and interactions between other accounts.
As part of their efforts to support users’ mental health, Instagram began testing how users would feel if the ability to see the link count on other users pictures, including their own, would no longer be an option. The only time you’d be able to see your like count would be clicking on your picture and then the likes to see your number at the top.
They decided to test this potential function in Canada, so I’ve been using Instagram while not being able to see the number of likes for quite some time now. And because I’ve been using the new version for a while I’ve noticed a few things about it.
Personally, I find it more annoying and frustrating not seeing other peoples like counts on photos mainly because I’m nosy. Most of the time, I wouldn’t care nor would I compare my likes versus someone else’s simply because I don’t care about things like that. If I don’t like someone or someone I’m not fond of posts a provocative picture (presumably for likes), I want to see their number just so I can make judgments in my head, to be honest. And not seeing that kills me because the snoop in me just wants to know out of curiosity.
I personally have never found myself competing or obsessing over like counts on someone else’s account. But I can see how other people would.
Obviously, Instagram is known for people broadcasting just the highlights of their lives and not the reality. This can make people feel devalued and attempt to fit those unrealistic goals. I know many people who have said that the pressure to have a more interesting page or try new looks to keep up with a theme affects their lives.
But I do believe that those pressures don’t affect everyone the same way.
Sure, there are people who enjoy having an aesthetic theme simply because they just like a unified look. And there are definitely people who are obsessing over their likes simply because of their competitive nature or the desire to make a career as an influencer or creator.
I feel that the pressure of like counts damages other people’s self-confidence. The majority of the problem stems from the fact that people post carefully crafted and orchestrated photos. Some people may see this type of post and feel alone and bad about themselves. Hell, we’ve all been there when we’re scrolling through our feeds in bed on a Saturday night. We start feeling lonely and wishing to be doing something else more interesting with our lives. It happens to everyone.
If I could come up with a helpful solution that gives people the best of both worlds it would be to create functions where users filter what information they wish to see. In that way, they can be the ones to edit their intake of negativity and unattainable goals online. Through that, they can hide how many followers someone has, or like counts so they don’t feel like they have to step it up or compete.
My suggestion for Instagram (if they choose to continue with this feature) would be to allow individual users to block the visibility of likes and followers counts. This approach would allow people like me to keep the previous version as it was. This is clearly all up to individual preferences, so why not keep it that way. Users should be able to dictate how it affects them if it even does at all.
Featured image via Georgia de Lotz