Why Instagram's Move to Eliminate 'Likes' is a Big Deal to Your Mental Health
Sat, April 17, 2021

Why Instagram's Move to Eliminate 'Likes' is a Big Deal to Your Mental Health

Social media has been defining our personalities over the past few years. Most of the time, the attention we get from this platform is used as a form of validation / Photo by: Cathy Yeulet via 123RF

 

Social media has been defining our personalities over the past few years. Most of the time, the attention we get from this platform is used as a form of validation. Thus, it’s not surprising that social media has been attributed to higher levels of loneliness, anxiety, envy, depression, decreased social skills, and narcissism. Many of us, especially young adults, have made it such a part of our daily lives, we can’t imagine a day without it. 

Donna Wick, EdD, founder of Mind-to-Mind Parenting, explained that young adults cling on social media due to their need for validation and a desire to compare themselves with peers forms. Reports show that 60% of people using social media say that it has negatively impacted their self-esteem, 50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationships, and 80% reported that it is easier to be deceived by others through their sharing on social media.

As a result, more and more teens are becoming a lot anxious on social media. They have focused on gaining likes, comments, or shares instead of considering their actions. They tend to compare themselves with others. It’s a natural human instinct to judge our progress or success in life by seeing how we match up against others. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology suggests that such comparisons can make people depressed. 

There’s a growing need to address these issues considering the massive impacts to the current generation. Social media platforms should initiate efforts which can extremely help a lot of young adults now. Today, it seems like Instagram is moving towards this goal. 

Instagram Removes ‘Likes’ Worldwide

Recently, Instagram has been experimenting with removing “likes” from posts across the world. Countries like Canada, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, and more have this no-likes feature. While some worry that this can be terrible for emerging artists online, Instagram still plans to pursue this to create a less stressful experience for all of us. "While the feedback from early testing has been positive, this is a fundamental change to Instagram, and so we're continuing our test to learn more from our global community," an Instagram spokesperson said. 

According to Business Insider, a fast-growing business site with deep financial, media, tech, and other industry verticals, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri stated that the company made this move after critics expressed how the app has affected users’ mental health. "We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people's well-being and health," he said. Mosseri also emphasized that the decision was made to encourage users to focus on content rather than feedback. 

Unfortunately, many celebrities and influencers have complained about this new feature, especially because the influencer market has ballooned in recent years. Reports show that the market is projected to grow to a $6.5 billion industry by 2020. Others also said that this would affect their businesses. For instance, a recent research survey of Canadian influencers revealed that over 50% of them who have been affected by the new feature have seen the growth of their follower counts slow down.

Nonetheless, Instagram continues to run tests across the world. Instagram wanted to make the nature of the posts less of a competition and instead give people more space to focus on connecting with things that inspire them and the people they love.

Recently, Instagram has been experimenting with removing “likes” from posts across the world. Countries like Canada, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, and more have this no-likes feature / Photo by: Panithan Fakseemuang via 123RF

 

How This Can Improve Mental Health

The decision of hiding the number of likes on users’ posts is a bold move by Instagram, but a necessary one. The growing concern about the impact of social on young people’s mental health and self-esteem has become more and more alarming over the years. While a lot of influencers and celebrities are worried about this new feature, Rachel Rodgers, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at Northeastern, stated that this could have a positive effect on us. 

According to Medical Xpress, a web-based medical and health news service, the users’ addiction to likes can be explained through a psychological theory called social validation, which states that we mostly conform to a group and follow the actions set by the group to gain trust and fit in. This explains why we tend to orbit around people who are better-looking, more successful, and more glamorous than us, even if it means damaging our self-esteem.

The growing concern about the impact of social on young people’s mental health and self-esteem has become more and more alarming over the years / Photo by: Pop Nukoonrat via 123RF

 

"We are essentially social people and a lot of the way we navigate the world is based on the feedback that we get from other people. So we think about social media as being a super peer in that you get that feedback that you would get from your friends at school from a much wider pool of people,” Rodgers said. 

This could help in reducing anxiety in teens, considering the fact that they usually use social media to evaluate their self-worth. This proves that online feedback causes a lot of anxiety in today’s generation, particularly if it is related to appearance. "And so, if you're lessening to some extent the way in which the feedback is an important part of what people are getting from Instagram, then you lessen that pressure,” she said. 

As a result, we could slowly live a life where we learn that social media validation is not that important, especially if it risks your mental health stability. While the decision of Instagram would have negative impacts, it would surely be beneficial in the long run.