Social media is a great source of funny memes, cute animal pictures, and gorgeous photographs, but it has a darker side and a number of negative effects.
Its bad influence on mental health is something that cannot be denied and mental health experts and parents are worried about teens and young adults and their increasing social media addiction.
Statistics show that some teenagers spend up to 9 hours every day on social media and teens who spend 5 hours a day are twice as likely to show depressive symptoms. Social media interrupts positive activities and negatively impacts sleep, which is detrimental to our mental health.
The rise of influencer culture is contributing to this problem, with the constant marketing and lavish lifestyles being shoved in people’s faces at all times.
Validation on social media
Validation is something that everyone needs, but now, social media has become the number 1 source of it for most people.
They frequently check the profiles of other people and when they notice they have more likes than them, it has a bad effect on their mood and leads to them obsessively planning out their next post and thinking only about it.
It seems like more and more people aren’t living in the moment anymore and are taking pictures and videos only to show off what a great life they’re living.
Not to mention the Photoshops (I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen people edit themselves in next to the Eiffel Tower) and hours and hours spent on staging photos to make them look spontaneous.
People have started measuring their worth in likes and posting for the sake of likes instead of sharing something worth reading and looking at, and platforms like Instagram and Facebook are planning to do something about it.
Which social media platforms are going to hide likes?
In July 2019, Instagram announced they were testing a feature in certain countries where they were hiding likes from followers. The likes were first hidden in Canada, followed by Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
According to them, this feature was for the sake of making people focus on the very photos and videos they were posting, instead of the number of likes.
People have started liking posts on Instagram and Facebook without even looking at them just because their friends liked them. This led to posts massively dropping in quality, which makes perfect sense, because why would anyone try to make good content if they were getting tons of likes just posting whatever.
Instagram hid the likes for everyone except the person who posted the image. We’ve yet to hear news about Instagram hiding likes globally.
In September 2019, Facebook told TechCrunch that it’s considering testing like removal.
They hadn’t clearly stated when and why, but it only makes sense it’s for the same reasons as Instagram: to help people stop comparing themselves from others and make people pay more attention to content instead of aimless posting and scrolling.
At the end of October 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly said at a Twitter event that he would remove likes from Twitter. TwitterComs tweeted that it was only being considered and that the work was still in the early stages. Considering it’s been more than a year and no news, this is probably not happening.
What will happen when likes are gone?
In a previous post that he wrote, my colleague Mateja Simić made a few predictions that he thinks will happen when likes are gone, so let’s look at them:
Posts will increase in quality
This is undoubtedly bound to happen. When people stop being able to like whatever their friends are liking, they will begin to actually look and read the content on their feeds.
This will lead to not only people you know but also brands and influencers being forced to make content ‘of substance’. By this, I mean content that is worth reading and looking at, content that you will see and actually make time for it, and then leave a like if you think it was worth the time.
People will start paying more attention to visuals and descriptions
What this means is that people are going to stop liking generic content only because they saw their friends liking it. Accounts with hundreds and thousands of followers will have to start making content that not only catches attention but is also worth looking at.
Enter, visuals. Photos that are professionally taken (and I’m not talking about photos taken with a professional camera), photos with unique concepts and photos that inspire people will become more relevant. You won’t receive the likes you were getting from people who were liking just because they saw their friend’s name in the likes. You will have to earn them.
Image descriptions and profile coherence
Another thing that will start to matter more is descriptions. But descriptions are useless, you may say because no one is on social media to read. I’m not talking about paragraphs and paragraphs of text, I’m talking about descriptions that can tell a whole story in 3 sentences, make you laugh, inspire you, make your day or all three. If your photo wasn’t enough to make someone leave a like, a well-crafted description can help.
Also, coherent profiles will start to matter more. Your posts will have to start telling a story in a way, where all the posts will have a similar theme and look to them. As my colleague put it, you will have to start telling a story with your posts, and every post will be a little puzzle piece in a large puzzle. Very well said, I have to admit.
People will stop being able to track who is liking what
How many times have you stopped yourself from liking something just because you were afraid someone from your family or workplace might see the post or your name on it? Or you accidentally left alike from the wrong account?
I think we can all agree that this is the best thing about likes getting removed, you will be able to like whatever you want. Additionally, it prevents people from obsessively checking what other people are liking.
At the beginning of October 2019, Instagram removed the Following Activity Tab, which enabled people to see what their friends and coworkers were liking. Great move from Instagram, because it prevents stalking. An Instagram spokesperson said that they removed it because it wasn’t used by a huge number of people and because some people weren’t aware their activity was displayed in the Following Tab.
Change is coming to social media platforms because of social media addiction and the increase of mental health problems in people who use it. Thankfully, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are planning to do something about it in the form of removing likes, which people nowadays use to measure their worth.
When likes become fully hidden, people will break the habit of comparing themselves to people with more followers and hopefully, they will realize they’re worth so much more than some stupid concept.
What are your thoughts on likes getting hidden on social media? Do you support this decision or not? Leave a comment!