On the 18th April TechCrunch reported that Instagram may be planning to remove the likes count on pictures posted to the app. The user would be able to see how many likes they received and from whom, but their followers would not be able to see this anymore.
“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”
This is how Instagram described the design change.
The potential change was spotted by Jane Manchun Wong during a design change test. Wong discovered the test in Instagram’s Android code, and from here was able to generate screenshots of how the change would look if implemented.
Mental Health Issues From Instagram
Instagram’s impact on users’ mental health has been widely discussed in the last few years. When Instagram first launched, the intent was to share something you were doing or a place you were in instantly – hence the name. Over time the app and how it is used has evolved dramatically. Gone are the days of quickly uploading an image and throwing on one of Instagram’s built-in filters, now the image is carefully staged, edited and arranged into the perfect coordinated 9 squares on your profile. Our feeds are meticulously ‘curated’, showcasing only the best of our lives.
So what impact does this have on our mental health? For some, Instagram may not present any issues, especially if you are following only accounts that you find truly add value for you. For example, my husband recently cleaned out his Instagram and now only follows accounts relating to news, book recommendations and technology, so he gets a positive and educational experience from the app. But for many, myself included, we follow our peers who might be jetting around the world, staying in fancy hotels, wearing beautiful clothes and living lives that appear so much better than our own.
I am personally happy with my life, I love my husband, we work for ourselves, have a good amount of savings, have flexibility to travel when we want and are in good health. However, despite having no reason to complain (except perhaps the fact we cannot live in the same place longer than 3 months until my US marriage visa gets approved!) I still feel envious of the lives of others I see on Instagram.
Often a quick scroll through the people I follow ends up leaving me feeling down, unhappy and questioning whether my business is doing as well as others. This is crazy because before I opened the app, I was probably feeling quite good. Very quickly you can spiral into comparing yourself to someone else – either their job, relationship, looks, clothes, the list goes on. Even the happiest, most content people admit that Instagram and social media in general can bring them down.
I don’t think that taking away the likes count would suddenly change how we feel about what we see on Instagram. But what it might do is lead to people focusing on sharing more natural / real content again instead of posting only the perfect images for the likes. For me this would also mean I could post a picture that I am not in (which I MUCH prefer to do) because as most people know, photos with you in them tend to receive more likes and engagement than those without.
But I Am Also Contributing To This Problem…
Yes, I hold my hands up. I am completely guilty of contributing to the problems that I see with Instagram. I started a female travel feature account 3 years ago to showcase beautiful travel photos. But whilst we do show pretty travel photos, we try and share more realistic images – not always a girl in a dress at the top of a mountain peak, or a tonne of bikini photos and we share a travel tip together with each image. We also try to use our platform for good and recently launched Travel Girls Giving to encompass fundraisers, impact trips and spotlighting organisations giving back around the world.
Secondly, I post my own highlight reel of photos. However, I do not spend hours setting up a photo, I don’t travel to a specific place to get a photo, and if we don’t get a halfway decent photo in the first few pictures we move on. I maintain a presence on Instagram for both my businesses, but ultimately I focus on the two blogs as I see this as a more realistic reflection of who I am and provides more useful information for my readers and followers.
Personally, I feel much happier when working on my blog. I know people who visit (like you!) are here because they genuinely want to be, not because they are playing some Instagram follow/unfollow game. In fact, I’m such a strong advocate of making your blog the main focus of your online presence that I’ve included all my favorite blog tips in The Blog Elevation Program. If you are sick of Instagram metrics and enjoy the blogging side of things more, check it out and let me know what you think!
Why This Could Be A Game Changer
- Imagine if you could just post that picture that you love, but don’t think will do as well in terms of likes? Wouldn’t that be a great thing!
- You could post the picture and move on, no need to furiously check your phone to watch the little hearts go up!
- This change could bring back the enjoyment of Instagram for so many people. Not a day goes by that you don’t see a blogger or Instagrammer saying they are taking a break from Instagram for a few weeks or that they feel disconnected from the app. If we didn’t have to worry about the likes, maybe we wouldn’t need these breaks anymore!
- I don’t plan to have children, but if I did I would be seriously worried about raising them in a social media obsessed world. It was hard enough being a teenager, without having a literal measure of your popularity for all your peers to see. As adults, we have the ability to recognise that the number of likes is really not that important (unless has a financial impact for you), but younger minds may not be able to make this distinction.
All in all, for me personally I think this potential change to Instagram would a step in the right direction to restore some of the reasons that we fell in love with it in the first place! I am keeping my fingers crossed that this change is made so that we can continue to enjoy creating and posting content, and potentially get back to posting more creative content that we love without worrying too much about the likes!
What Do You Think?
Whether this change happens or not, I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Would the removal of likes improve your experience and enjoyment of Instagram? Or do you love the likes and can’t bear to not see them? Let me know what you think in the comments!
I hope that this article has sparked your interest and made you think a little bit about the impact of Instagram on our lives. Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!
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