Instagram should remove likes and followers altogether

Eva Bard, Style Editor

In late November, Instagram updated its app to hide the total number of likes on a post from one’s followers but left users with the ability to see the number of likes on one’s own posts. The whole concept of having “hidden likes” has changed the Instagram environment to be more care-free and has encouraged a movement of posting authentic and happy pictures. However, looking deeper this “quick-fix” doesn’t solve the whole problem. 

Likes on Instagram have always played a public and personal role for me. The number of likes I get on a post both tells me my self-worth in that picture and informs my followers of my popularity level. Through hidden likes, I no longer worry that new followers will make judgments about me based on the number of likes I get, and I feel more confident about my feed overall. 

However, because users can still see their own likes, Instagram still encourages toxic obsession over them, although this time more personal rather than public. This obsession with likes causes me and my peers to often spend time meticulously analyzing our likes and delete or archive pictures that don’t have as many as we want. The only way to get rid of this behavior is to get rid of the number of likes altogether. 

But similar to the number of likes I get on a post, the amount of followers I have is a social signal to those looking at my profile. I’m guilty myself of making judgments about people based on how many followers they have, or on their follower to following ratio, and using that number to define their popularity and “coolness.”

The desire to have a larger number of followers adds to the pressures of Instagram, causing the social media platform to be a place of comparison instead of sharing. Because of this pressure to impress peers with followers, teens also make public accounts or accept follower requests that they don’t really know that could possibly threaten their safety. 

The environment of Instagram won’t change overnight, but through these changes, the social media platform can become a safe place that allows people to confidently share genuine and happy moments without pressure or comparisons.