The Silver Lining in The Instagram ‘Like’ Saga
“There’ll be one camp jumping for joy for what feels like a little win in the revolt against social media, and another quaking in their virtual boots”
So, Instagram has announced its decision to remove likes from the platform. As someone who has been on both sides of social media, both as a user and a brand, this sent my brain into a tailspin. So many questions, so little time. But what about influencers? What about content? What about brands? What about me?!
This is a move that will split the masses. No doubt about it. There’ll be one camp jumping for joy for what feels like a little win in the revolt against social media, and another quaking in their virtual boots wondering what this means for their morning workout and their thousand dollar snap. But what exactly is going on?
Right now the conversation around mental health continues to take center stage. And rightly so. It is reported that 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues. Throw Gen Z into the mix and this is set to soar, 90%* of whom already claim to be stressed to the max. Fingers point firmly at modern life with both technology and social media playing a massive part in the loneliness epidemic. Connection is at the helm of much emotional unease and both have changed the way we communicate entirely. We’re spending more time on our phones in WhatsApp, on email, on social media then we are catching up with people yet we know everything that’s going on. That’s not to say that mental health issues didn’t exist before, they did for sure, but they weren’t connected to likes or follows or picture-perfect pedicures, and they weren’t in your face 24/7.
What does this mean for me?
In an attempt to address the issues Instagram claims that they want to make the platform a less pressurized place. Having introduced the time limit last year, Mark Zuckerberg is keen to continue his prioritization of mental health by making the app more mindful for users. Hence, the decision to remove likes and reduce the prominence of the follower count. Likes have become a currency of sorts, especially among young adults who are still growing up and figuring out who they are (does it ever end really?!) and chasing currency can leave your self-esteem in tatters.
The cycle is vicious. You post to get likes, you get likes, you get your dopamine hit, it goes and you’re back to square one. On the other hand, you’re a brand - you trawl the web trying to figure out the secret sauce. You copy what everyone else is doing, you post, you hope the fans will go wild. If they do, great. If they don’t then it’s plan B. The changes being rolled out means that personal accounts will no longer see how many likes their posts are receiving.
Back To Basics
What’s most exciting about this whole move is that it’s bringing us back to basics. Instagram wants us to engage with what we like, not what’s getting likes. It’s bringing us back to the time when there were no ads. When you couldn’t follow hashtags when comments were through the roof and your friends saw your content because they wanted to, not because of some power-mad algorithm. The simple act of removing likes has the potential to change the way we post content. We’re not longer posting for likes, we’re posting to tell our story. To share the moments that matter because if you don’t know whether your weekend brunch snap got a single like then what’s the point?
But Is That It?
Forgive me for being a cynic but one of the biggest companies in the world removing one of its core features for the sake of our mental health? Something tells me there are dollar signs ahead. Stay tuned!
About The Author
Siobhan is a Trainee Psychotherapist, Mental Health Advocate and Editor of crakd. She’s also embroiled in an intense love affair with eclectic interiors and colourful food.
Follow Siobhan on Instagram @siobhan_scan