Let’s just be honest here, how many times have you stopped yourself from posting a picture you really liked on Instagram because you can tell that it won’t get as many likes, or you’ve been discouraged from posting altogether because your posts don’t get that many likes anyway? Or maybe you’ve felt miserable hours after posting an image, because it didn’t get any or enough likes? 

The obsession with likes or other people’s validation compounded with the urge to compare is so high and toxic that it creates a lot of unrequired stress, anxiety and pressure in individuals of all ages – especially the young. It is to “remove pressure” on users that Instagram has recently started an experimental trial. In Canada, Instagram has been testing a change to its platform that hides the number of likes on posts so only the owner can see them. In the trial, users will see a user name “and others” below posts. The new test is rolling out in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil as well. 

Social media platforms can contribute to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy in young people which in turn can cause depression and a reluctance to participate. Likes, which are usually used as a metric to compare posts to one another, as well as subjectively measure popularity, are rendered powerless by this move. “We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, said in a statement. The goal, she adds, is that users feel less judged and to see “whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story”. 

While this is a move that should’ve been taken on part of Instagram long ago, the question remains – why does likes, attention and validation matter anyways? What matters is that we are happy with the content we put out. Isn’t impressing our inner self good enough?

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