Back in April 2019, Instagram made an announcement that they were testing out the removal of Instagram likes/views in other countries around the globe. The purpose of this test was to see if it would remove the pressure off of people who struggle with their self-esteem and mental health. My question is:
WHY haven't they done this sooner?
I say this because social media sets all of these unrealistic expectations for people with low self-esteem. Having "likes" represents the popularity and likeliness of a person, which also comes with anxiety and depression. Let's say you post a picture of yourself that you really thought you looked good in, but after 5 hours, it only gets 9 likes. You get embarrassed, delete the photo and question if you are worthy and valid. You say horrible things to yourself like, "Wow, this wasn't a good photo. I'm ugly." I mean, something like that. The desire for likes may also contribute to body dysmorphia, eating disorders and other mental disorders.
Most of the "Instagram models" you see are women with surgically enhanced bodies and filtered editing, which sends girls the wrong message. It tells those viewers that they must look a certain way to earn likes/views. More and more women are getting plastic surgery and dying on the table just to obtain those followers, which is really sad. People will also do pranks, do crazy and dangerous dares, disrespect others or cause a scene, or simply become influencers. I understand that you have to eat and there's nothing more rewarding than hustling. However, my point is that most people on that app will do anything for likes.
The desire for obtaining hundreds of likes has made us get out of character and feel as if we must put on a face for attention. Just to be clear, there is a difference between confidence and attention-seeking. If you want to post your naked body as a way to inspire young people to love theirs, do it. But if you're posting your naked body only to obtain likes and validation from people who only want THAT, you're losing track of what is important. Behind those likes may be someone who is broken or has low self-esteem and relies on excess filters and Photoshop to feel wanted. This is not okay and I wish Instagram did this sooner.
Now, what about the social media influencers?
Like I said earlier, a lot of people with a big following can be known as "social media influencers," who advertise and talk about brands in exchange for money. I get it, you have to find ways to eat and provide for yourself. There should still be a way for those influencers to make their money, but what matters most is about the mental health of viewers.
Removing Instagram likes will help users not feel so much pressure when posting a photo. What happened to posting a picture for fun? Why do you have to post a picture at a certain time for people to like it?
You can say that this generation is "sensitive" all you want, but the amount of suicide rates are heartbreaking.
Remember this: Your worth shouldn't be determined based off of a like on social media. if you are feeling good about yourself, you shouldn't let other people tell you otherwise. A healthy environment is a happy environment.
Thank you all for coming to my TED Talk!