Will Hiding Instagram Likes Improve Mental Health?
A recent piece on CNN Business, Instagram Doubles Down on Test to Hide Likes, tells us:
For some users, not getting enough likes can impact their self-esteem. According to a recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom, Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health.
Is any social networking app good for our mental health? Is the Internet good for our mental health?
Of course not. Phone and social media addiction run rampant and don’t discriminate. Human interaction has suffered. We have the attention span of a gnat and have difficulty being in the moment. I watch people come out of meditation and yoga classes turn on their phones as soon as they can, desperately needing to see what they missed over the past hour or so.
I have always defined social media as the illusion that people actually care about you. In reality, most of your “friends” aren’t friends and they could care less. A like is, by definition, shallow. It’s about quantity, not quality. Likes are a meaningless sugar high that have little to do with true acceptance or belonging. But in the absence of any real emotion makes people crave them all the more.
Instagram hiding “likes” won’t help. The “bully” feature described in the CNN article doesn’t seem to go far enough. It’s kind of like cigarette companies hiding health warnings to protect the mental health of smokers. Sure, you’re going to suffer and die, but we wouldn’t want to worry about it.
The very nature of the Instagram dictates that it is impossible to, as they say, “address or fix some of the other factors that can impact the well-being of users on Instagram, including bullying, feeling left out or thinking other people’s lives are better than their own.”
How crazy is that? Again, isn’t the whole point of posting and receiving likes for some to provide the illusion, to themselves and others, that their lives are better than yours?
This is the stuff that makes brings out the inner Libertarian in me, which makes appearances rarely. Social media is a public forum. Expect to be judged and accept the consequences when you post that photo of the avocado toast you just ordered.
This all part of a larger discussion, of course. Is social media evil? No more than Ben & Jerry’s Super Fudge Chunk ice cream or a lovely, iced-cold martini, I would think. When you establish boundaries and don’t get carried away to the point where you’re harming your health and threatening your well-being, it’s all good. Step over the line to addiction and you’re in trouble.
This, along with other serious problems such as hate speech, raise questions about the extent of government intervention and self-policing by the platforms. How much oversight is needed?
There’s a sweet spot somewhere that will hopefully emerge in the near future. My feeling is that egregious behavior like hate speech should earn you an instant and permanent ban from any platform.
But controlling likes? Spare me, please.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please make sure to like this post, repost and send to all your friends and family. My happiness and self-esteem depend on it.