Illustration by Izzy Zavareei
Navigating the internet isn’t easy for teens. A copious number of us struggle with mental health, self-esteem and body image issues as a result of our constant exposure to social media.
To alleviate this barrage of issues afflicting teens, Instagram is now considering implementing the removal of like counts. Users would still be able to like posts, but the like count wouldn’t be publicized. The goal is for people to continue interacting with one another, sans the competitive aspect of comparing the likes on posts.
Competition over popularity and social status plagues the lives of teenagers. We are constantly comparing ourselves to one another—and rarely in a positive way. You may have felt great about your most recent post, but if another person got 400 likes on theirs and you only got 200, you start telling yourself they’re better than you. All because of some number.
Removing like counts is necessary. Too many of my friends have said they deleted pictures from Instagram purely because they didn’t get “enough likes.” There is some sort of imaginary standard that we make up in our heads, and if our like count doesn’t surpass that threshold, we ask ourselves, was the picture really worth posting?
I have also found myself guilty of falling into the trap of obsessing over likes. I can distinctly recount occasions where I deliberately waited to post a picture until nighttime because I knew that was when people would be on their phones. More activity equals more likes.
There is no doubt that social media has benefits. It allows us to connect and interact with others over the internet. It helps deliver news, spread pop culture, advertise and create content. All of these wonderful parts of social media can happen without there being a like count.
Getting rid of like counts from Instagram will put more focus on the content of the post, less on the numbers. We will feel more confident putting up pictures of ourselves with our families and friends if we aren’t worrying about what others think.
Social media has had countless negative effects on our mental health. I’d love to make it positive again. Let’s bring social media back to what it should be, a way for us to share with our friends and family in a positive environment, where we aren’t constantly comparing ourselves to another because of how many likes we get.