Like it or Not: We can Survive without Likes on Instagram

Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons

Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons

Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

Reading Time: 2 minutes


Many Instagram users became frantic after a recent rumor circulated that the app was getting rid of its “likes” feature. The abolition of “likes” could have arguable benefits, such as lessening the anxiety many users feel to live up to a certain standard when posting pictures. But such a change would ultimately only be a quick fix to the much larger issue of the need for public validation facing our generation.

The rumored change, which the social media giant has since officially denied, would have meant users would still be able to see the number of likes their own posts garnered but not the number of likes other users’ posts received.

In a Newsweek article by Nina Godlewski, an Instagram spokesperson stated the company was not currently testing such a feature but were continuing to explore ways in which they can “reduce pressure” for users on the app.

The unabating need to always have the perfect picture to post on Instagram is something so much of our generation is entirely too familiar with. All photographs must be expertly doctored to meet specific criteria in order to be deemed suitable for “the ‘Gram.” Otherwise, it will be locked away in our phone archives, never allowed to see the light of day.

Users utilize the proper lighting, efficient angles and the best editing tools to make each photograph “IG worthy.” They then hit the “share” button with trepidation, sending their masterpiece off to millions of judges, juries and executioners.

Anxiously they await the public’s response. Enough likes engenders a state of self-satisfaction and euphoria. Too few likes on too many posts is devastating to one’s self-esteem and reputation. We all know someone who went as far as to take a post down if it fails to gain a sufficient amount of likes. We’ve perhaps even been that person ourselves.

Instagram should absolutely strive to implement any measure they can to ensure users feel comfortable. Giving users the option to prevent others from viewing the amount of likes their posts have could indeed make Instagram more fun to use. But removing the ability to see others people’s likes will not solve the underlying problem at hand.

If the app continues to be a main source of validation for Instagram users, they will simply find another way to measure public opinion–such as focusing on the number of comments–in order to satisfy their need to feel accepted. To truly get rid of the pressure associated with using Instagram, users must recognize the amount of likes a picture gets does not determine their worth.

Especially as young people, it can be difficult to refrain from worrying about what other people think of us. Instagram provides a sort of instant gratification that allows us to feel loved by our peers. The app can give a sense of self-worth that is easy to achieve in a society that tells us we have to look and behave in a certain way to be accepted.

But numbers on a screen are a very ineffective way to measure one’s value. If Instagram likes are your main source of self-worth, you will never really feel worthy. Being truly secure involves accepting who you are and not letting anybody else dictate how you should feel about yourself.

If we can adhere to these principles, it won’t matter if people know how many likes we get on a picture. The best way to reduce the pressure we may feel while using Instagram is not to get rid of likes, but to get rid of the power they have over us.