The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I’ll be the first to admit to the critiques of social media — especially Instagram. It’s a very powerful platform that’s had more of an influence on people than most of us would like to admit. Have I loved some of the things I’ve witnessed or created on Instagram? Of course. Am I ashamed of what the platform has done to my self-image over the years? Absolutely. The things that matter to me on Instagram have zero impact on the kind of person I am. It doesn’t define the type of friend, girlfriend, daughter or student that I am. It has zero correlation to my self-worth. However, Instagram causes me to think the complete opposite.
It’s interesting because it’s different for everyone on what causes them to feel this way. For some people, it’s the unrealistic photoshopped images that cause people to be insecure about their physical appearance. For others, it’s the number of followers others have. It’s mostly been counting likes for me.
I preach a popular quote from Theodore Roosevelt quite often: “comparison is the thief of joy.” We can never be truly happy if we constantly sit back comparing our lives to others. Comparing something such as Instagram likes can take a toll on the mind, to say the least. It didn’t start bothering me until the beginning of college when my Instagram feed became full of a lot more people that posted the exact same time as me, with around the same amount of followers, and still managed to get double the amount of likes. I would see people with half of the number of followers as me and still manage to get near the number of likes I got. It didn’t make sense to me. What was I not doing right that others were? Was I so determined to not post the exact same way as everyone else that it was affecting if people reacted with my posts? Was it likes that motivated me the most when it came to the posts I created?
To be completely honest with you, I didn’t like the person likes made me become on Instagram. Sure, I have a love for photography, fashion and being able to embody the two into the perfect candid for Instagram. However, the photos would lose value to me if they didn’t get as many likes as I believe they deserved. I’m still embarrassed to say I’ve let this happen, so when Instagram allowed users to hide like counts on photos, I became extremely conflicted.
I’ll start by saying my likes are currently turned on because peoples’ perspectives of me will begin to shift the second I turn them off. Should that matter? Not at all. I promise I’m working on it. I think we all are. I’m currently torn on whether or not turning off Instagram likes moves us in the right direction towards a more confident, independent mindset. On one hand, it allows us to express ourselves in our posts without worrying about others liking it and — on the other hand — people can take you hiding your likes as a sign of weakness. I feel like that sounds super dramatic and pessimistic, but let me explain.
As an insecure generation of people, we’re always looking for things to critique about others, especially on social media. I’ve watched people chuckle at the small number of likes that a beautiful post got. I’ve seen people delete posts because they haven’t gotten enough likes — myself being one of those people. The opportunity to hide likes puts us at just as bad of a risk. I find it similar to when you ask someone how they did on a test or exam, and if they don’t respond, you automatically know they didn’t do well. However, isn’t that more on us for inferring someone’s post did badly when that may not be the reason they hid it at all?
The tough pill to swallow is knowing that if we all truly stopped caring about what others did on the Internet, we wouldn’t feel the need to hide likes or anything on social media. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t be looking at people’s accounts to see that they hid their likes. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t do it ourselves.
For those who’ve chosen to hide their likes, I hope you know I completely understand why you do. It really does make sense. If it’s not for those reasons, it’s still your social media to do with as you please. For those who haven’t done so, just know either way it doesn’t reflect anything about you. I don’t believe one side is better than the other, and that’s exactly how we should see it. This isn’t how we see it, but maybe one day we’ll arrive at that point.