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Instagram is on some next-level thinking with the testing of this new feature. (Illustration by Jessica Shaklee, University of Georgia)
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It might sound shocking, since it’s one of the platform’s best-known features, but maybe it’s a good move.

Instagram might be saying goodbye to likes. The reasoning behind getting rid of the popular feature would be so that people pay more attention to what you post, rather than how many likes it has. Nothing is official yet, but the well-known social media outlet is testing out the possibility to see how it goes, and if it receives positive feedback from its users, Instagram could potentially change the way others see your posts. But would this change be a good idea?

In a world where people obsess over how many likes they get, this wouldn’t be the worst thing. According to Instagram, “The reason for this update test is to have users concentrate on their posts and interacting with the app rather than likes.” Apparently, people will get rid of their posts if they do not get enough likes on it, and that can stop people from enjoying the app the way they are supposed to.

An article from Forbes magazine said, “It will show a couple profile photos next to a call out of a few names who have liked the photo, as it does now, but will no longer show the exact count of people who liked the post.” This could help reduce the stress and anxiety people get from wanting to see how many people have seen and liked their post. For users who depend on seeing the exact count on their posts, this test run doesn’t sound like a great idea, but there is something in the works to help out influencers.

There’s another reason Instagram is doing this: They want to increase their efforts to raise mental health awareness. The app saw good feedback when they created stories, a feature that is well-known on Snapchat. Instagram decided to introduce stories, as well, so users would not have to worry about how many likes a post of theirs was getting.

The testing has already begun in Canada, but it isn’t certain if Instagram will run this experiment in other places just yet. If the results from this test are overwhelmingly positive, then there is a possibility that this will spread to other social media outlets, such as Facebook. However, changes like these will bring conflict.

According to Newsweek, not everyone sees eye-to-eye on Instagram’s potential change. “Some users immediately praised the idea that a like count wouldn’t be visible to them, others hated it.” But for Canadian users that have test run the feature, feedback has been good. One user reported that the change is a new way of interacting with the app; the user stated that, previously, he would get bummed out when a post would only get a few likes and that he has even gotten rid of posts if they didn’t have enough.

Does mental health go hand-in-hand with social media? The answer appears to be yes. There are users who might believe that their worth is tied to how many likes or followers they have. Obviously, this is not healthy, and it would be a good idea for Instagram to go through with their testing worldwide.

A report from the American Psychological Association said, “Rates of depression, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts and actions have risen significantly among people 26 and younger, with some of the highest increases among women.” The rise correlated with the increased amount of time that people spend on social media.

Users will go back and forth between their own posts and others’ to compare their likes. This can be bad, resulting in low self-esteem for those who frequent the app. As someone who also uses Instagram regularly, I can say that I have found myself comparing my own posts with others, and the end result usually doesn’t leave me feeling good. If Instagram is to go through with their decision to get rid of likes, they would be doing a lot of people (including myself) a huge favor.

However, an Instagram that gets rid of its most prominent feature could face some setbacks. It would do wonders for its users’ self-esteem, but, “Getting approval from other people in the form of likes and comments is partly why people keep returning to social media again and again.” Users might not find themselves drawn to use the app at all, leading to overall decreased activity among its userbase, and that is a hit that Instagram would definitely feel.

Social media grows more and more every day, with new users signing up on many different platforms. While it’s not the worst thing in the world to share how your day is going or show what you’re eating for lunch, there are negative consequences to constantly checking in on how your posts are doing. It has been shown that these platforms are highly addictive, which is one of the reasons why people keep coming back to them so frequently.

Adults in the U.S. spend an inordinate amount of time interacting with any kind of social media, according to MarketWatch. Being on Instagram or Facebook for a few hours a week is not a bad thing, but we should watch how much time we spend on platforms that make their profit from keeping their users’ attention.

It is important for social media users to be aware of how much time they spend scrolling through different feeds, because a large amount of the time spent there could probably be spent on more productive activities. Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, might become more manageable if everybody cut back on the hours they spend staring at a screen and comparing their accounts to their peers’.

Social media can be a fun way of getting in touch with others and communicating different ideas, but, like anything else, it can also have its downsides. While Instagram is only testing their no-likes feature on their Canadian users, the feedback they receive could change how people go about using the well-liked app.

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