Put quite simply, Instagram has turned into a popularity contest. I'm not saying that every single person who has the app is obsessed with how many followers they have and how many likes they get. Yet, it certainly seems like the majority of Instagram users are at least somewhat interested in their followers and how many likes their content is receiving. Why else would there be so many apps that have been made for users to track their engagement, sending notifications to users when someone unfollows them? Some of these apps even show users who their "ghost followers" are-- users who follow you but don't like or comment on your posts.

Social media has turned extremely competitive. Followers, friends, views, likes, comments, retweets, and the like have turned social media into just another way for us to compare ourselves to each other. It's not enough that mass media projects barely-obtainable beauty standards that foster judgments and comparisons to be made by all members of society. To make matters worse, billions of people around the world have become consumed by social media, which has been promoting petty competition not only between people who are absolute strangers to each other but even between people who actually know each other.

I could be wrong, but I'm almost positive that the creator of Instagram did not intend the app to turn out this way; the once social, fun platform people used to share their art has turned ruthlessly narcissistic and superficial. It seems as if, when a user is scrolling through their feed, instead of looking at a post of the sunset and thinking, "Wow, what a beautiful sky! I really liked how the colors pop", they're probably looking at how many likes the post received and thinking, "100 likes in just ten minutes for a picture of the sky? Why don't my pictures get that many likes in such a short amount of time?" They may even hop onto the user's profile to look around. I doubt that this competitiveness was the original purpose of the app.

A downside of Instagram removing its followers and likes count is that Instagram will be losing an integral aspect of the app; unfortunately, the core of the app doesn't lie in art and photography, but rather in popularity. Are people really going to want to use an app that doesn't display how many people follow them and like their photos? We've become so accustomed to this competitive feature of social media, and I can definitely see people boycotting the app simply because Instagram without the followers and likes count is not the Instagram we've grown obsessed with as a society.

At first, I hated the idea of Instagram without the display of how many followers and likes each person has. But this attitude made me question the app and its intentions, along with my personal perceptions. I remember when I first got an Instagram account in the sixth grade. Everyone followed each other because it was a small school, not because we wanted to be the most-followed middle-schooler. We would post pictures just for fun, without any ulterior motives or wanting to show off how amaze-balls the inside of our lockers looked.

Instagram shouldn't be just another stress in our lives--we already have so many things on our plate: school, work, family, relationships… need I go on and stress you out even more? Maybe if the followers and likes count disappeared from our accounts we would start to actually post for ourselves, and maybe even appreciate the art that can be found on the app. Wouldn't it be nice to post a selfie without determining the exact time to post it, down to the minute and the hour? Can you imagine an app without anything to worry about, like checking to see if that cute guy saw the selfie you put up on your story? A social media platform without superficial stress and competitiveness would be nice for a change.