Growing up in the age of social media has been damaging to many young adults, including myself. Throughout my entire time at school, my worries were dominated by popularity.
I was always worried about the way I looked, my weight and the amount of likes that I would get on Instagram. I often went to extreme lengths to fit what was the social norm and what would make my posts popular on Instagram. Social media wasn’t fun. It was just hours of scrolling and looking at women, who looked nothing like me and had thousands of more likes and followers. I truly believed that if I changed myself to look exactly like these women that I would be popular, gain more likes and validation.
As I matured and was exposed to the positive side of Instagram, such as accounts that would share posts about mental health, activism and body positivity, I began to realise how toxic my behaviour towards social media and myself had been. It was a difficult journey to self love and appreciation (and one that I still need to work on sometimes) but one thing that did help was the hiding of likes.
For a social media platform that was based around the idea of numbers and liking posts to show one’s appreciation for something or someone, this felt like a huge step. Instagram no longer felt like a job. I no longer needed to pick apart photos that I was going to post or worry about how they would be received. I could post freely about anything without the fear of being judged or not gaining a respectable amount of likes.
Finally, Instagram felt like fun again.
Now, Instagram has introduced a function that allows you to choose whether or not you want to hide your likes. I will definitely continue to hide my likes. Due to the fact that likes used to rule my life, I believe that this is the healthiest option for me. I don’t think that this highlights that I am still scared of not getting a huge amount of likes, but rather it shows that likes no longer matter to me. I do not feel the need to broadcast the amount of friends I have because the only person who needs to know about my friends is me.
However, if you do choose to share your likes, I believe that is as empowering as choosing not to. Instagram giving its users a choice puts them in control of their accounts and their health. Whilst there are still many more things that need to be worked on (FILTERS being my biggest problem), both by Instagram and its users, this definitely is a step in the right direction.
Image courtesy of Karsten Winegeart.