Will losing likes help with mental health?

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For all of us obsessed with the culture of Instagram, the idea of ‘no more likes’ can feel as though the platform is completely changing its dynamic. But is it really a bad thing?

If you post on Instagram, you’ll be guilty of refreshing your notifications or staring at your screen in the hope of some peer approval. This pressure has been linked to mental health issues in the post-millennial generation.

These well-documented, psychological drawbacks have caused Instagram to refresh how the app displays data, including removal of the image like count and a full profile redesign to limit the emphasis on followers.

Instagram Stories was the first instance of the brand’s attempt to reduce the pressure on users, giving the option to only share content with their ‘close friends’ and removing the need to manage multiple accounts (check out our piece on Finsta and Rinsta accounts here).

Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, has stated, “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.” Seemingly, an advancement on Facebook’s earlier claims to move the profile away from advertising and into the realms of meaningful content.

Despite an obsession with likes sounding like a self-obsessed issue, there is a science linked to the addiction. When we receive positive feedback from likes, comments and shares, our brains release a neurochemical known as ‘dopamine’. Being a highly addictive brain response, it has led us all to loop our behaviour – we get a small hit from a like or message, it quickly fades and leaves us wanting more. It becomes harder to stop checking for gratification and has us constantly refreshing.

Finding joy in posting online isn’t what’s negatively affecting mental health, it’s the inability to stop comparing our success to others and the reduction in goal-driven behaviour. If we can get our satisfaction from something as simple as a like, we’re no longer pushing ourselves to achieve something bigger.

These simple moves by Instagram should, in theory, stop us being able to compare our success to others. This will hopefully push social media back into what it was intended for – to socialise, connect and communicate – without the fear of failing.


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