So by now you’ve probably heard some of the biggest news that has crossed Australia the past few weeks and it had nothing to do with the fact, that by 2040 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, or perhaps on any given night in Australia 116, 427 people are homeless or that currently Australia is facing the biggest drought in 120 years.
No no my friends these issues didn’t even compare to the biggest news to hit our feeds, which was, that Instagram has removed the number of “public likes” displayed on our accounts!
So what exactly does this mean for you?
The Instagram update means, now when you scroll through your feed, the “like count” of posts will no longer be visible. Instead, the number of likes will be hidden and you will only be able to see your own count unless you can be bothered to add other people’s up individually (let’s be real…why the f would you bother).
This topic has sparked outrage in the influencer community and while I’m sure many influencers have their reasons for feeling this way, the purpose of this chat won’t be focusing on how this affects the Influencer community, but more so how this impacts society from a mental health space in a positive way.
Let me ask you this… How much time have you wasted checking how your latest post is ‘performing’, refreshing to see how many likes you have, then debating over whether to archive it or even go to the extreme of deleting the post because you didn’t get the number of likes needed to make your post “socially acceptable”(whatever that actually means).
It’s a sad reality but there are numerous studies that have highlighted social media usage being linked to mental health issues in youth. Furthermore, those who engage in high social media use can lead to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, feeling lonely and low self-esteem.
I’ll be the first to admit I have fallen under this trap and I know my friends have felt they needed to look a certain way to be accepted and compared themselves to others. But I’ve wisened up and realised that the amount of “likes” or “comments” I have on my post has nothing to do with my own values and should never be used as a tool to measure my worth or social acceptability.
There have been numerous studies which have found direct correlations between high social media usage and mental health. A recent study conducted by the The University of Pennsylvania showed that when students limited their social media usage to just 30 minutes per day they actually reduced their feelings of FOMO and anxiety.
Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt adds, using less social media actually leads to a significant decrease in depression and loneliness. "Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there's an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people's lives, particularly on Instagram, it's easy to conclude that everyone else's life is cooler or better than yours."
If this Instagram update helps even 5 teenagers to gain more confidence, not feel the pressure of social acceptance and improve their mental state then it’s a win from our perspective and I commend you Insta. Sometimes we need to take a second and think about the way things might affect other people and although there was outrage from some, this is much bigger than the need to know how many likes you or others have on pics, the goal is having a positive effect on so many people.
So here I stand (well actually I’m sitting but for dramatic affect let's go with stand) saying to you all, goodbye to likes and a big hello to mental health! Now don’t get me wrong, I love the gram …when used appropriately and in small doses. Limiting our social media considerably and reconnecting with friends and family IRL is definitely the way forward to find the healthy balance between the two.
If you’re feeling like you’re struggling with mental health or just need someone to talk to about life. We’ve put resources below that you can contact:
For immediate help
Contact 000 if it is an emergency
DIAL: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service
DIAL: 1300 659 467
DIAL: 1800 650 890
DIAL: 1800 55 1800