I admit, the title leaves a lot to be desired grammatically, but considering that the issue is about social media and the dreadful “Like” culture, I saw no way around it. The news today that jumped out at me is that Instagram and Facebook are in the process of testing the social media platforms in certain countries by no longer making the number of Likes visible on posts. The idea is to make Instagram, for example, more content and quality-oriented rather than a popularity contest. It took them 20 years to figure this out, but better late than never I suppose. To clarify: you are still going to be able to Like posts and see the Likes on your own posts but not on the others. So basically, you click on that Like button because you truly like the image or post and not because 3000 others have liked it ahead of you.
The removal of the Likes visibility for Instagram has gone live in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand with positive feedback thus far. I for one welcome the change and the concept, but what strikes me about the test countries is that there is no East European or Asian country included, both regions that contain heavy social media users and who dominate the photo communities in general. The Facebook test was only launched in Australia thus far.
Having never been a supporter of this Like-me-and-I-like-you-back phenomenon, and believing strictly in the quality of the image speaking for itself, this is move that I welcome very much on Instagram. Yes, I understand the effort to pull the reins on the so-called influencers (a topic I will lash out on in the coming days), but will this not discourage the use of the platforms altogether? On the other hand, it might just attract others who have resisted joining until now because of the intimidating popularity contest. I suppose there is only one way to find out and let the testing phase continue.
This move comes in the wake of earlier efforts to curtail social pressure of dieting, weight-loss, bullying, mobbing, suicide, depression, consumerism, and a host of other maladies, and promote a healthier environment online. How this is possible after decades of internet dependency and complete immersion in virtual realities is a riddle to me, and I can only hope that it encourages more independent thinking and breaks down virtual brainwashing.