Yesterday, Instagram updated its platform to hide the number of likes posts have from anyone other than the person who posted it. Henry Oliver (who mostly posts photos of his kids, magazines, wine labels, and self-promotional work stuff) thinks it's the first good thing Mark Zuckerberg has done in ages.
Why the Instagram update is good:
- There’s less information to distract you from the pictures.
- Your judgement of the pictures is no longer (consciously or not) influenced by the number of likes that picture has.
- Your judgement of the person who posted the picture is no longer (consciously or not) influenced by the number of likes their picture has.
- Numbers make everything feel like work rather than leisure.
- It slightly lessens the feeling that social media is merely a status game using little hearts as endorphin stimulators to keep people posting, chasing the dragon of likes and the more likes you get, the more likes you need, and the more likes you see other people get the more likes you think you deserve, so you start to only post the kinds of pictures that get the most likes and stop posting pictures of things just because you find them beautiful or funny or interesting - the kinds of things your actually-not-that-wide circle of actual friends who actually care about you and would actually help you if things weren’t going well would enjoy seeing - and then all that posting of things you hope people will like starts to leave you feeling a little dead inside because you’re more than bathroom mirror selfies and you’re more than sunny holidays and you’re more than your cute kids and you’re more than your LOL screen grabs and you’re more than your shitty concert footage and you’re more than your bird’s-eye-view plates of food and you’re more than your ironically detached meta-Instagram posts, all of which is to say, yes, if you like posting to Instagram, you do you, but maybe if you know people aren’t judging you on how many likes your posts are getting you’ll feel liberated to post whatever you want to even if you can still tell how many people like your posts and maybe, just maybe, social media will start to feel slightly less like personal brand labour and more, well, fun.
Why the Instagram update is bad:
- It doesn’t go far enough. Abolish all likes! Or, at least, make likes a kind of digital ephemera where you get told that so-and-so liked your post and then *poof* it’s gone into the ether. You know they liked it, no one else needs to.