I remember the day I first made my Instagram account like it was yesterday. I just entered high school and was in the process of meeting a lot of my new classmates. After we’d become acquaintances and/or friends, they’d always say, “Hey, follow me on Instagram!” to which I had to explain that I didn’t have an account. That changed pretty fast, and before I knew it, I was invested in my online presence.
I started posting average photos, nothing too extreme, but with every post, came more pressure. I started wondering why some pictures would receive more likes and comments while others didn’t. I turned to Google and tried to figure out the best time to post on Instagram in order to optimize likes. I was watching what other girls my age were posting. Why did I feel this way? How was I letting an app on my phone decide how I was feeling or what I wanted to do? I felt ridiculous and tried my best to nip it in the bud as soon as I could. Before you scoff and think I overreacted, I’m here to acknowledge that this happens more than we think. We can take the smallest things to heart.
Instagram is always creating new features and updates for people to either avoid or post about immensely on their stories. One concept that has been in the news and has caused quite the discussion, is the feature that hides the number of likes that you see on a post. Now nobody can see the exact number of likes everyone is getting on their posts. But really, it’s a good thing. Actually, it’s a pretty great thing.
People use social media for a bunch of reasons. To laugh at funny videos, as a place to procrastinate, to read some empowering mantras, or even to get your news – social media offers it all. Within that mirage of funny memes and people posting the highlights of their lives is also a place that can cause some not-so-happy moments. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 16 per cent of Ontario students alone spend five hours a day or more on social media. Five whole hours. Researchers have also found that patterns of continued social media use are “‘capable of altering the mood, motivation, concentration and producing a dissociating and disinhibiting experience for users.’” In other words, it’s taking a toll on students, changing our moods from feeling good about ourselves to feeling self-conscious. Instead of concentrating on school, we are concentrating on the perfect time to post our selfies.
What makes us so worried and concerned about our online presence anyway? That little number beside our posts telling everyone how many people have liked it can consume us. It can control our character, how we hold ourselves, and what we care about the most. One radical thought that I usually contemplate when I’m in the middle of zoning out is if we didn’t have social media at all, how our lives would change. I’m not the only one who thinks that either. The Guardian reported in one 2017 survey of British school children that 63 per cent would be happy if social media had never been invented.
A life without social media would be a different one, but that wouldn’t be so bad. A detox, cleanse, a break – however you slice it, it could do us some good. Taking all social media away, even just for a short period of time, allows us to be more present. Connecting more with our physical surroundings, instead of connecting our phones to a charger to save our Snapchat streaks, is perfectly fine.
I am interested in hearing what other people have to say in regard to a rebuttal against Instagram getting rid of showing the number of likes per post. Influencers and brands having meltdowns because people can’t see how popular they are doesn’t sway me very much. Don’t even tell me how much money Kylie Jenner can make on each of her sponsored posts, because I don’t want to know. Seriously, please spare me. I’m over it because we can decide what we think is appealing and what isn’t. Whether an account has 15 million or 15 thousand followers shouldn’t dictate if you like it or not. If it fits your vibe, then go for it.
I’ve heard rumours of this feature disappearing and the number of likes showing up again. Maybe that should worry me, but it doesn’t. Now that I’ve taken a step back and I don’t take my posts too seriously, I’ll be alright. If I want to post a picture of me devouring some pierogies, I’m going to do it. I’m going to remember the empowerment it can give you when you realize that likes are but a number on your screen. There is no correlation between them and your value as a person, what people think of you, or your worth. Let’s stop treating posting as a chore and have fun with it again. So please, post your hearts out.