Girl on Instagram on blog by Ally Salama
Photo by Becca Tapert

Instagram has been very smart in understanding that many people, especially the younger demographics have been negatively affected by the utilization of their platform. 

The question here remains; In our current, highly competitive, profit-driven world, could have Instagram 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?

Usually, 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 be a smart move, yet I wouldn’t go as far as hailing Instagram.

It would’ve been incredible 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 modern-day usage of social media is correlated with poorer mental health, such as high 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’re yet to figure out. 

However here are two things that are still worth mentioning, regardless of Instagram’s new policy hiding “likes”:

  1. People will still be following the same number of people.
  2. 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 and the amount of time it racks them up in.

In an age where the need to be seen is at an all-time high – racking up likes and comments in the shortest timespan often becomes the goal to appear first on your followers’ news feed.

So again: Will Instagram’s policy really make a difference?

While the numbers of likes aren’t visible publicly, they’re 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 a policy isn’t going to help on a grand scheme of things, when core behaviors, beliefs and attitudes towards social media from users remain the same.

Wouldn’t it be great 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 high levels of peace within.

If Instagram still disrupts that for you, 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 therapy may after all just be a few clicks away: a few unfollows followed by clicking “follow” on the right accounts.

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