I have never been a big social media poster. I’m the person that will scroll through and like other people’s posts, but I rarely post myself. I haven’t really thought much about why I don’t. I’m not sure if it’s because my mom posts often on Facebook (for a couple of years straight she bought a “Facebook Book” that was a photo album of all your posts for the year, so she documented everything she/we did) or because my brother got rid of most social media (kept Twitter) and never posts. I have just never been one to post on social media, although at times I would like to. I recently started to think more about why I don’t post even when I want to. I don’t really want to commit to saying that I get “social media anxiety” but that could be part of it. We’ve all heard that social media can affect your mental health. It can cause FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), you may feel inadequate in your own life, and it can even cause you to feel more alone.
For me, I worry about how many likes I get. For example, if I don’t get a certain amount of likes, it means people don’t like me. When it comes to friends and family, I know that that is not true. I have amazing loving and supportive friends and family, so why do I worry about how many likes I get on a post? Shouldn’t social media be for you and not cause you to worry about it? I think it should, but that is not the case for many people.
I recently heard on a podcast I like that the host, Alex Cooper, is turning off her likes and comments on Instagram. She’s doing it mainly for all the hate comments she gets sent, but also says that she’s doing it for herself. She got caught photoshopping a photo and was aggressively called out for it. There were multiple viral TikTok’s addressing the photoshopping. She also got messages on Instagram from people saying they hate her for photoshopping and telling her to kill herself.
Hearing about the ability to turn off likes got me interested and thinking more about it. If I turned off the likes I get on my post, would that make me feel more confident in posting?
When you turn off your “likes” on a post, you can still see who’s liked the post, but others can’t see. On Instagram, it will say “Liked by @username and others” so other people won’t be able to see how many people liked the post, but you still will know. But will turning off your likes big be as big of a benefit as some people think?
Sophia Choukas-Bradley, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences, says that this may be a step in the right direction, but they do not believe that will be a majorly transformative change. Jeff Hancock, founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab, also agrees. “Do I think it’s going to have a huge impact on mental health? I don’t think so”. Not many professionals think that this is going to be a huge drastic change to people’s mental health when they use social media. They all say that it is a step in the right direction. That there are some problems to work out with getting rid of the likes feature, such as being able to apply it to all posts and not individual posts.
I believe that this is a step in the right direction and a good one for Facebook and Instagram. For me being able to apply that feature will ease my mind more of thinking people will judge me for knowing my post didn’t get thousands of likes.