Just last week, Instagram announced its decision to expand its like-hiding test to the USA and other countries around the globe. This means if you are in the tested region, others would not be able to see the number of likes on your posts. You still can monitor those on your posts though.
This seems to be a growing trend among social media platforms these days. Facebook has also begun experimenting with this very system. Heck, even Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has hinted on removing the Twitter’s like button for some while now.
Although there is no public actions from Twitter yet, it is clear what direction the social media giant is taking. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are three of the biggest social media platforms today, and all three of them have plans to remove a big part of what makes social media it is today, the ‘like’ button.
The power of a single button
Why is the like button such a big deal? Well, ever since Facebook started implementing it in 2009, it became a standard. For some, it meant social acceptance. For some, it meant the quality of content. Likes have a different meaning for everyone. But let us admit it, one way or another, we crave likes.
Remember there was a time where Instagram doesn’t list likes in numbers if your likes don’t reach 11? I bet you all do. You must have tried to push your likes over that magic number before. If not, it might feel embarrassing to look at. Some even delete their posts if it doesn’t reach that magic number.
Oh by the way, for those who are Insta-popular, sorry if you could not relate. Lets put out a new example instead. Imagine if one of your posts have a like count that is way lower than the rest. I bet you would start sweating over it. What is wrong with that post? Do I not look good? Did I say something wrong to my followers?
This phenomenon is starting to take its toll on many. Mental problems began to arise. People are obsessed with likes. Social media posts are no longer about content anymore, it is about who could fish the most likes out of their posts.
We are caring about all the wrong things
Here is the thing, most people hate the way they care about likes. While being conscious about our acts, and how we despise it, we still unwittingly give in to the pressure of social media. We are still self-conscious about our like count. We still would feel down when our content doesn’t get the attention that we expect it to garner.
And here I have a pretty ironic fact. According to a little experiment here, most people don’t even care what they are liking anymore. It is nothing more than just a gesture of tapping (or double-tapping) on the screen. You could propose to the wrong partner in your Instagram post and people would not even notice.
The truth is a hard pill to swallow, but the only people that seem to care about our posts are ourselves. Yet, we are still obsessed with how many likes people decide to give us. We still try to curate ourselves to the public’s tastes. It makes us wonder, is this how social media is supposed to be?
Has social media lost its way?
Humans are hard-wired to be social. Social media provides us a platform where we could share ourselves with others, a place where we could gain recognition from others. It is a place where we could satisfy our needs to be social. But it seems that it has derailed from its original purpose.
We are no longer sharing ourselves for the sake of sharing, we are sharing to gain confirmation and attention from others, and it has become an obsession. I am sure you’ve had that feel-good moment when the like started pouring into your posts. Yes, you are not alone, it is normal, you should not have to be ashamed for it.
And the act of liking? It has degraded so much over these few years that it isn’t worth two cents anymore. In fact, people’s decision to like a post can be deeply influenced by the number of likes the post is getting. Which posts another question, are ‘likes’ even genuine nowadays?
Putting the brakes on the issue
It became such a problem that all the biggest social media platform decided that it had to be gone for good. Of course, with it comes another problem. Social media likes have often been used for proving the value of posts. But rest assure, Instagram is doing their best to come up with an alternative way to this issue.
Early tests are getting positive results. Now that only you can see the number of likes on your posts, people are more willing to show themselves in ways that they would not before. They are no longer afraid of the lack of likes. All while they still could monitor the likes for themselves. At least, it is not an open secret anymore.
On the side of the ones tapping likes, this new feature has made them more aware of what they are liking. Now, they are starting to go through the content first before pressing that coveted button. It is a major step ahead, as now posts are more focused on content rather than coverage.
End of an era
It might truly be the end of an era for like buttons. Perhaps for a better future, this is a step that social media platforms should be taking. It is time for social media to go back to its roots. It should be a social platform to share and interact, not as a channel where people will be constantly wary of how others judge them, or where people will constantly compare themselves with others.
This is a change that I am welcoming with open arms. I see no harm to it, it just surprised me that it took social media companies that long to start noticing this problem. But better late than never, we can now look forward to a fresh start for social media platforms soon.