We were all born with an innate desire to be liked. We feel good about ourselves when we receive compliments and encouragement from others and validated when others like something we have said or done.
And nothing illustrates that fact more than the likes we get on Instagram and Facebook. How many times have you posted something on social media and then checked to see how many likes you’ve received on it? If you are like me, it’s a temptation you fight. It is an impulsion. We just can’t help ourselves.
However, we are learning that this can be a huge factor in the increase of anxiety and depression among users, especially teens. In 2019, in an effort to help combat this issue, Instagram began experimenting by disabling the like button for a large number of users. Then in March of this year, they accidentally disabled the like button for a larger group of people which quickly prompted an outcry begging the creators to bring it back.
Some users enjoy seeing how many people like their posts because it makes them feel good. For others, particularly those who are considered to be Instagram Influencers, this impacted their ability to earn income. They need to be able to see those likes in order to know what products are popular, and it also helps attract advertisers. This seems to have created a dilemma for the developers of Instagram and Facebook. Remove the like button or keep it?
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, announced this week that they will be “testing a new option that lets you decide the experience that’s best for you – whether that’s choosing not to see like counts on anyone else’s posts, turning them off for your own posts, or keeping the original experience.” Not only will they be testing this out on the Instagram platform, but they are considering doing something similar for Facebook users.
This dilemma has caused me to evaluate my own feelings about that tiny little button that seems to hold so much power over so many people, including myself at times. While I realize that this new feature may not be available to everyone for some time, I am grateful that it is something the developers of Instagram and Facebook are considering. As we continue to learn more about the effects of social media on our mental and emotional well being, especially in our young people, any steps we can take to make it a healthier environment should be considered.
So kudos to Instagram for taking a step in the right direction. I would certainly be sure to hit the LIKE button on that decision!