Six Degrees, the first recognized social media site, was created in 1997. Users were able to customize a profile and friend one another. Since then, social media has expanded dramatically into what is now a key part to modern life. There has been a shift from carefree, genuine content to commercializing and focusing on a number that the world will see.
Who would have known that a click of a button could hold so much power?
Not all individuals are consumed by the “like.” Some use social media for personal use and to connect and share with the world. Others use social media for corporate purposes to promote their business or brand. Social media has even turned into a primary source of income for many.
Studies show that 3.2 billion are engaged with social media, which is 42% of the population.
The influence that social media can have on a person has become even greater than many would have thought. In today’s world, a “like” determines worth and value for many. The desire to be wanted is often determined by how others perceive the content you share. This is not an issue isolated to one generation. There are individuals of all ages who find value in how others online perceive them, and studies show the effects this can have on one’s mental health.
The “like” has become a symbol of status. Users on social media platforms have strayed from the primary purpose of connecting, and it has become a passageway into comparison, envy and anxiety. There are individuals who will delete a post simply for not reaching a certain number of likes within an amount of time. Others tailor their content and will only post to please someone else.
The authenticity is gone.
Imagine if the number of likes you received on a post were only reserved for you.
This is actually an idea that is currently being tested in various parts of the world.
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has tested getting rid of the display of the number of “likes” a post gets. The user will be allowed to see the number, but this will not be viewed by others.
Facebook conducted a similar test in Australia. Jimmy Raimo, a spokeperson for Facebook, said, “We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences.”
The goal for both platforms hiding likes are similar. It allows all users to express their authentic selves. Why does one place so much value in a number? The negative effects seem to outweigh the positives, in this case.
In actuality, what would this look like day to day?
The competition factor would be gone. Individuals would not feel as if they need to outdo one another.
Users would be able to post content that they truly care about, rather than to simply please the eyes of others.
For those concerned about influencers, profit would still be able to be made. The majority of brands reach out to influencers based on their follower count and engagement with their audiences. This can still be done without the world seeing the number of likes that they have on a post.
A “like” should not determine value. Individuals should have the creative freedom to create content without the pressure of attaining a certain status in society. Social media was created for connection, and the world should return to the core reason it was created in the first place.