(Image courtesy of Jessica Nguyen)
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: Instagram is hiding likes, but social media can still harm users’ mental health

In early April 2019, Instagram began to experiment with hiding the number of “likes” on users’ posts. The idea of likes is still there as users can still like other posts, but users will only be able to see their own number of likes and not the amount of likes of others.

Instagram has only tested hiding likes in certain locations, including Canada, Japan and Brazil, but now is willing to experiment in the United States too; although, the exact date of when it will happen is not official.

Likes are a notable characteristic of Instagram, which is why it came as a shock to many people when Instagram announced the idea of removing it. Instagram states that hiding likes will help users stop comparing themselves to others based on the number of likes they get or the ratio of comments and followers to following.

However, many have brought up that hiding likes will not stop users from comparing themselves as they can see their own likes. Without the number of likes being visible, users won’t like posts as much, which might cause influencers to feel as though their followers are losing interest and they are becoming unpopular. This might lead to more pressure to post pictures and videos that their followers will like so the number of likes they get will increase.

While Instagram removing likes is supposed to help its users’ mental health, the real issue is how social media can influence us so strongly: how the number of followers, likes and comments can determine our self worth and success.

Many teenagers compare themselves to others online without realizing that influencers usually only post the best version of themselves on social media, sometimes with the help of photo editing. Social media has transformed from a platform for people to share and connect with others to a place where self esteem goes to die.

Social media seriously harms its users whether it is their mental health or the hours they spend on it. Although Instagram removing likes will not help its users, it is a step in the right direction to addressing the real problem.