Instagram has been very smart in understanding that many people, especially within the younger demographics, have been negatively affected by the utilization of their platform.
However, the question remains: In our current, highly competitive, profit-driven world, could Instagram have hidden “likes” to cater to their user’s mental health and wellbeing? Or instead, to enable more content to be uploaded, thus increasing time spent engaging on the platform?
Generally, social media platforms rely on content generation and user engagement for their ad-revenue business model.
As a mental health ambassador and business graduate, I’d argue it could be a smart move, yet I wouldn’t go as far as hailing Instagram.
It would’ve been more meaningful to have heard a statement from their senior management, given the potential their social corporate responsibility has on influencing our current global mental health epidemic.
Nonetheless: our modern-day world reality remains the same.
High usage of social media is correlated with poorer mental health, such as elevated levels of anxiety and depression. While spending hours viewing curated lives can be exhilarating and entertaining, it most often becomes the thief of our joy.
Will Instagram’s new policy positively affect our mental health?
In truth, we’ve yet to figure that out.
However here are two things that are still worth mentioning, regardless of Instagram’s new policy of hiding “likes”:
- People will still be following the same number of people.
- Likes on our photos were only one way we used to compare ourselves with others.
In essence, we’ll inevitably still be looking at influencers we follow that curate “perfect” content with massive followings first on our feed. What doesn’t change is Instagram’s algorithm: it hides the number of likes but still prioritizes high rated seeding content first on our feed.
High rated content and accounts are those with higher “likes,” followers, blue verification badges, and engagement. Content that pops up first on our feed takes into account the likes and comments of the photo. As well, in an age where the need to be seen is at an all-time high, racking up likes and comments in the shortest timespan also becomes the goal in the race to appear first on your followers’ feed.
So again: Will Instagram’s policy really make a difference?
While the number of likes aren’t visible publicly, they’re still visible privately.
In reframing the question – we ought to incline more into thinking: How can users be mindful of their feeds in order for healthier use of social media?
A social media platform changing its policy isn’t going to help in the grand scheme of things. Users’ core behaviors, beliefs and attitudes towards social media will likely remain the same.
Wouldn’t it be more meaningful to unlearn numbers and learn purpose?
In other words, we’ve got to start caring about the things that matter.
If that’s our mental health, then we must act accordingly, in the way that brings us the best quality of life, with minimal anxiety and higher levels of inner peace.
If Instagram still disrupts your quality of life, learning to regulate your usage is the best way to go.
What we need to focus on is empowering users to be purposeful and mindful.
Your “feel better therapy” may just be a few clicks away: a few unfollows followed by clicking “follow” on the right accounts.