The Irrelevance of Likes on Instagram

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The Irrelevance of Likes on Instagram

Apr 14, 2020

Instagram is a heinous tool that entered our society some years ago. I too fell into the trap of social media and being consumed with the ‘likes’. When I first started using Instagram I did not care about followers, likes, and having engagement on my profile. It was all fun and games to show cute pictures and have a new way to boost my friends up (and maybe show some people that I did indeed have friends). Prior to moving to California and being a ‘small-town’ girl from Minnesota, I was blissfully ignorant of the power Instagram had over my generation. Once I started at Pepperdine my whole perspective on Instagram changed to something unhealthy. Seeking validation from how many followers I was gaining from Pepperdine and the LA area, thinking that the more random people that followed me and liked my pictures the more whole I would feel as a person.

People that use Instagram still claim that likes do not matter to them and they wanted to just show off a picture...But I beg to differ. Being consumed in photoshoots for the perfect photo and spending an hour editing that single photo became a normal regiment in my friend’s lives, including mine. Sending an option of five pictures and deciding when to post to get the most amount of likes you can possibly get was a normal part of posting on social media. That still is for the majority of users who use Instagram.

At the beginning of this academic year, I realized how consumed I got with Instagram and decided to delete the app and discontinue my use on the platform. Since then, my life has become much more stress-free and I don’t feel anxiety over trivial things. Once I stopped caring about likes on my pictures for some sort of validation, I became a much happier human. I have not missed Instagram and the likes I received at all, and I don’t miss going on there and liking other people’s pictures for a way to show them I care and support their postings. Honestly, if Instagram took away likes I might consider rejoining the platform. With likes in the mix, I believe the majority of perceptions are going to be skewed due to the fact people want to feel accepted and well-liked. If it moved away from seeing those likes and went back to wanting to post to share what is happening in your life with your friends, I suspect it would be a much healthier experience for everyone involved.

As I get older I want to use Instagram to show the people I care about my achievements and monumental moments that happen to me. Especially as I exit college and my close friends start to scatter across the world, having a way to keep up to date with each other’s lives will be important. However, until that shift happens from being centered on likes to being centered on the context of the photo I do not see myself engaging in social media any time soon. I support anyone who feels the need to use it, and I understand the want to use it. Even so, likes are irrelevant and the world would be happier without them.

Bella Szarzynski, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Likes on Instagram may be going away. Will you miss them if they do? How will people know what to like? The class covers copyright and social media. Bella is a Public Relations major.

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