Social media has undoubtedly changed our lives in ways we still can't fathom- from controlling how we take in information and news, to how we shop, and ultimately to how we connect with each other and ourselves.
There are matched pros and cons for social media as well- it can make loved ones from far away seem close, it can stimulate and inspire our creativity, or even create communities and bring like-minded individuals together.
But it can also make us insecure or feel unvalued at times. It can lead us to want more material things, or tell us that we need this item or to go to this place to be looked at a certain way. It can pry us away from real life experiences and moments, while we are scrolling for hours on our phones and laptops.
It can consume all of our attention or lead to falsified experiences just to show off this new thing, this experience, or this place- that you just have to check out when you get the chance.
A big part of what makes social media so negative is not just because of some of the content posted, but also the fact that numbers of likes and views of the photos can also be easily seen. At times, people (including myself) place too much value on these numbers, the number of likes, the total of comments easily seen under the photo.
This erases the point of posting in the first place, because, to me at least, it's the captured moments that matter, not doing something solely for the 'likes' or social media attention.
Instagram is toying with the idea of erasing the number of likes seen underneath the images called "private like counts" which is starting to go into effect through testing. In this, the number of likes on a picture is not displayed unless someone asks- making the app feel much less like a competition, more comforting, and bringing the focus back onto the content.
To me, this idea is wonderful since it is erasing the need for consequent validation, and focusing on authenticity and the pictures or images posted themselves. I feel that a lot of social media sources should follow that example and implement strategies that would make the users feel less pressured and insecure, and more focused on things other than their social media pages.
Even though the idea is a test, I truly hope that the company instills this feature to make social media- at least a little- more healthy. Even though this won't cure all of the woes of social media, it is definitely a great start and for many people, social media will be a lot less daunting.
All in all social media has amazing potential to be engaging and supportive and changing the formatting of the apps themselves seems to be a positive step in the right direction. All in all, as a society we definitely need to be less judgemental to ourselves and others, and not base our value on numerical likes or interactions.
The emphasis should be placed into the real world, in events that take our breath away and moments that define our lives. Doing this will make us all a little more human in this increasingly digital world…