Recently Instagram sent its global pool of influencers into a state of WTF meltdown by announcing plans to hide likes on Instagram posts. It is not an all-out final decision at this time, but rather a test in countries like Japan, Brazil, and Canada. Needless to say, this is not a move that makes influencers happy, as the open display of their popularity is what drives their individual attractiveness for brand partnerships.
In this test, “likes” – indicative of how many heart icon clicks received for a post, will be invisible to users. However, the status of likes will still be available for review by the account holder, in their user dashboard.
News of Instagram hiding likes first hit the headlines in Australia a few days ago. Jokes were immediately forthcoming in which people mocked influencers with memes suggesting things like, “Well I guess it’s time now for you to go get a REAL job!”
Yes, there is a lot of disdain in society for influencers across the world. It’s driven by a perception that they are just a bunch of entitled brats who want free stuff, high fees for posts, and first-class tickets to everything for basically doing nothing. To be fair though, this paints a broad stroke overall of influencers, as being vapid and self-aggrandized. It’s true, there are some like that. However, there are many too, who take the job seriously. For them, it is a job and for some, a primary source of income.
Personally, I take issue with hiding likes. As I see it, social media emerged as a place where we can create our own narratives and reach the masses directly. The earlier Myspace, and today’s IG and Facebook, were built on the interest people took in others’ lives, and just like other marketing platforms, it is fueled by the influence a user has to attract free-willed followers. There is tangibility there. Having the power to reach scores of people through a personal social network is a commodity that people pay for all the time. It’s no different than Pepsi or Coke paying a pop star with millions of fans, to push their latest soft drink.
Now suddenly, Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, is swooping in like a concerned psychologist to mankind. It is claiming the intent in hiding likes is to create less social anxiety on the platform. They are considering no longer highlighting levels of popularity. They most notably have expressed publicized popularity can be harmful to teenager’s self-esteem. They also aim to fix other issues as well, such as bullying, feelings of isolation or being down because you see someone living a more glamorous life than you.
As reported by CNN, an Instagram spokesperson recently shared, “We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
Well, to that I say, here we go again with the coddling of society and perpetuating the “Everybody gets a trophy” attitude. You know what? In life, everyone does not always get a trophy. Then, if you do get a trophy, someone else may get one smaller or far bigger than yours. The reality is many people do live a more glamorous life than you, but that’s not to say we have to regard that as a negative. Social media can inspire us, and ignite aspirations to achieve what others have accomplished, and experience what others have experienced. There is nothing wrong with that.
What is most annoying to me about all of this, is that Facebook negligently allowed its platform to be used for Russian interference in our 2016 election. To date, we have no real confidence that they have safeguarded their systems and put forth practices that will prevent such a thing from ever happening again. That said, I am confident there are far more pressing issues they should be addressing – and hiding Instagram likes is not one of them.
I have a simple suggestion to address the self –esteem concern. It can be easily remedied with a disclaimer statement on everyone’s Instagram landing page. Similar to a car’s rearview mirror messaging, this disclaimer can state, “Caution, the life being depicted in these photographs may not be as fabulous as it appears.’
Cause in point: Check out this hilarious story of Amsterdam based vlogger Rianne Meijer. She has 353k followers and an account of perfect images of her fabulous life in fashion and world travel … but as Meijer reveals in this story, we should not always believe everything we see. Some things that appear flawless are just a matter of knowing your best angles: