DO YOU REALLY LIKE IT?

Posted on December 03, 2019


“Scrollin’ through life and fishin’ for praise

Opinions from total strangers take me out of my ways”

Drake hitting us right in the feels. But he makes a good point! If you listen to “Emotionless” by Drake, you’ll find out that he isn’t the biggest fan of the culture social media has created.

In the past few weeks, the internet has been shaken with Instagram's removal of “likes” on users’ posts in a bid to ‘reduce anxiety and social comparisons, specifically with an eye towards young people’. While in theory, a good idea - is it a step too far for a social media platform that has been fundamentally based on gathering “likes” and mass approval for the content we create? We asked the team to see what they thought…

Mollie

I personally quite like seeing the number of likes and can’t visualise it without this feature, but maybe it will make Instagram a more positive environment.

Amy

I have mixed feelings about this move, as I do think likes are a key part of the Instagram experience. I love the action of liking a picture that I genuinely really like, especially if it’s from an artist or creator that uses the platform to showcase their work. It's nice to be able to see their number of likes grow as more and more people discover them. On the other hand, I feel like my perspective as an adult could be very different to that of a teenager or someone more easily led, and if hiding likes is what it takes to protect the wellbeing of these people then I say go ahead. VSCO, however, is a photography platform that works really well without a rating system, and I do wish I was more committed to it than to Instagram.

Vicci

I personally think it is great idea! There have always been social pressures on us, to have gorgeous hair, the perfect make up, the trendiest clothes, to visit the coolest places and so on, the battle was real when I was growing up and it was tough. I personally think, especially for the younger generations, this pressure is now tenfold with the emergence of social media. It frightens me, for the more impressionable, that how much you are ‘liked’ can now be quantified, is it really necessary? It may be great for those that get a high number of likes, but I think the negative effect that it has on those who don’t receive that ‘validation’ is where we need to focus and in my opinion, this is a step in the right direction and worth at least a trial.

John

I don’t have an Instagram account so my experience of likes in a personal capacity is limited, but I think it’s a good idea to take them away. It could end up being the saviour of society. Have you ever been on a night out with someone who has taken a pic and posted it? It goes like this. “I’m not bothered about my likes.” Takes the pic. Posts it. Checks for likes every 30 seconds for three hours. From a professional perspective, I think it’ll help further increase the need for quality content. People will always engage with stuff they like, whether 1,000 other people have liked it or nobody has. Good content is like a good story - it’ll always work in the end. It’s also going to be an interesting time for influencers or businesses who pay Russian phone farms to buy likes. Looking forward to that.

Claire Hamilton

I’m torn on this topic. On one hand, I think it is a really amazing step for society - especially for young people who spend a lot of time on Instagram and, sadly, judge their worth based on likes. We have to be very careful with how we use social media as a gauge for how loved and respected we feel about ourselves. 

On the other hand, it could really hurt a lot of people who use Instagram as their livelihood and platform for good - a lot of brands use influencers to promote their products, organisations use Instagram to raise concerns about critical issues and there are people who use social media as a way to promote positive messages and words of encouragement. I think it will be really interesting to see what happens and I do think there needs to be a balance between the two points. 

Dani

Personally, I am a big fan of this move and believe it will help reduce the competitive nature that the platform can often be. Users will still be able to view how many likes they get on their own post, the only real difference will be not being able to see how many likes other users’ posts get. Which is frankly no one’s business but the person who owns the post. This is exactly how Instagram Stories works and it’s proven very popular. People will always be unhappy with change but ultimately, will they stop using the platform? Highly unlikely. 

Alex

I’m a big fan of it! If it’s good content, people will follow it, engage with it and share it. I don’t think the number of likes a post has necessarily adds anything to it. 

Darryl

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. If we aren’t comparing each other on individual post likes, it will just be another statistic that we can pin our anxiety to, whether that be follower numbers or how many views on video posts etc. I think social media channels should work to reeducate users on these statistics rather than simply removing them. Or why not give users the option to remove the like number from their profile? As Taylor Swift once said, "band aids don’t fix bullet holes", and this screams ‘quick fix’ in every possible way. Get it together, Zuckerberg!

Kerry

I think this is a tricky one because there are a few ways you can look at this. I’m not sure that the hiding of likes on Instagram will solve all of the social pressures that come with social media. For the average user like you or I, I think it has to be a good idea. Likes on Instagram have become a form of social currency and a way to gain that much desired social acceptance and validation. There is no harm in getting rid of likes in an attempt to reduce the pressure people feel as a result of social comparison. However, I’m not sure that this will completely tackle the issues at hand. People will still feel under pressure to present the best version of themselves on Instagram, and I think this will continue to fuel the damaging social comparison. On the other hand, where does this leave those who rely on Instagram for their income or reputation? Will this make it more difficult for their content to gain traction or will it actually make Instagram a more authentic place. I guess we will have to wait and see. 

Claire Best

Social media was created for connection - to connect with people you love, and things that inspire and motivate you. We are so far away from that now as a generation, my feeling is that people use social media predominately as a measure of social approval. 

I think removing the visibility of likes is a GREAT idea. It takes the pressure away, makes it less competitive, and allows people to go back to using social media for what it was intended. Removing likes might encourage people to post and share more authentic and creative content and stop chasing approval. 

Charlotte

I’m all for the removal of Instagram likes. Recently I’ve caught myself on a couple of occasions planning in my head, “Oh I’ll take a photo like this while I’m out to put on Instagram later” which is (let’s be honest) really all for the likes. I know I’m not the only person to feel this pressure when they go somewhere “Instagrammable”, wear a new outfit, or celebrate an occasion. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing this type of update with friends and family on Instagram, it’s a thin line between updating them and craving their validation and approval. 

That being said, I don’t know how Instagram views its new path forward if it removes likes for good, and I’m interested to see what it might look like. I personally love Instagram Stories and use it a lot more frequently than a grid post, so I don’t think it would stop people using the platform and continuing to create and share great content.