We like to pretend we’re sharing and building an online community. Our fancy backdrops, achievements and luxury living merely connect us to others who enjoy visual inspiration. Doesn’t Instagram fizz a pop of brag? A splash of self-absorbency, spritzing cool, rich, stylish and happy attention? If the concept behind the app is false, what about Instagram likes? Do they showcase popularity or fake validity?
Can we handle hidden likes?
Reported by MTV, Instagram has been trialling some users in Canada by hiding their Instagram likes. The article quotes Mark Zuckerberg stating “The future is private”. With countless scrutiny relating to depression and suicide – the app featured distressing images such as self-harm graphics, can removing likes clean up Instagram’s image? The like button acts as easy conversation; a simple affirmation you’re acknowledged and supported. It’s the biggest way to interact and communicate. Furthermore, a ‘like’ elicits good self-esteem. Short bursts of confidence; digital acceptance.
Paramount for influencers, Instagram likes represent popularity and status. While brands appreciate followers, they equally expect followers to acknowledge the accounts they provide freebies and income to. If you master a huge following and mass interaction, free holidays and a lucrative income await; depending how you sell yourself. According to Joele Forrester writing for Talking Influence, influencers face “less power in brand negotiations” if Instagram implement their experiment. Users with high engagement and a low following may suffer additional struggle.
The piece suggests reach and impressions may replace the double-tapping hearts we love spreading. On the plus side, goodbye pressure to reach a number of likes and buy engagement. Overall photo comparisons could diminish and my email box might stop housing “hello, we think it’s such a shame you’re not more popular, let’s help you out” mail. Significantly, removing Instagram likes may evaporate typical trends such as airbrushed, glamorous shots outside grand buildings. Perhaps we’d see more ‘normal’ streets wisteria free.
The pointless reality of Instagram likes
We’ve reached the point where we don’t give a fuck (first time blog swearing) who offers an Instagram like, as long as they contribute to our grand total. It doesn’t actually matter if a robot helps out – do we bother to check where interaction stems from? The current algorithm (whatever that pesky thing is) promotes posts that receive high engagement in a short time frame. You know how a rich person has an easier time getting richer – same thing applies to a popular social user.
Over the past year, I’ve witnessed some followers sell out and go from 100 likes per post to 600 with thousands of followers magically appearing from nowhere, despite no difference in pictures. Am I sceptical – tad jealous – tad maybe? I fully support people who have the initiative to popularise their social media and launch their own micro brands. It’s nice seeing people receive recognition for their hard work. And there’s nothing easy about posting photos – lighting, editing, equipment, clothing… Repetitively forever? Unless you feel inner peace and take a social media break while meditating in Thailand.
Knowing the hard work countless bloggers and people go through to promote their images, it’s a slap in the face to sneakily buy effort. Instant gratification – wanting success and adoration with minimum input. Particularly unfollow/follow accounts. I admit to unfollowing these users by pressing a button to unfollow anyone not following me back. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite? Though in defence, once someone’s following, I don’t just unfollow. What makes Instagram likes pointless, in addition to some bought – many don’t represent sincerity.
Testing Instagram likes
A conducting experiment – my curiosity, examined likes on fast growing, 10k following plus accounts. On several, I noticed the users clicking like, not showing profile pictures, no genuine sounding account names and private profiles with no posts. Probably tied to robots. Why does that make us feel better? Even if they’re genuine, what’s special about random people liking your photo? I haven’t the answer, but I know it hurts when your likes plummet and supposed fame drops. Do we consider Instagram a game we want to win?
Surly the biggest concern for those wanting long-lasting profit; authenticity. People need to trust you enough to purchase your recommendations and click the bio links you indorse. If an Instagram user permanently markets countless products, I’m not comfortable investing in their endorsements. On the other hand, once an account gathers a strong following, people begin to follow because they want to associate themselves with the ‘in crowd’. An Instagram feed’s greatness depicts the level of attention received.
My average likes decreased rapidly after the algorithm changed to stop displaying photos in the newsfeed based on time. To gain Instagram likes, images need noticing – which means knowing the ins and outs. You can’t like too many snaps in an hour; you can’t repeat hashtags and you have to engage as much as birds attach themselves to trees. Social media translates to maths media – equations and lots of skin if that fails.
While recognition leads to wealth, success and jet-setting, I think fame’s also there for the sake of it. When I posted about Technology Ruining Society I mentioned The Sims. My sister once told me; games that place power upon you to control a reality always do well. Instagram plays the role of fantasy where hobbies, glamour and style replaces mundane routine and boredom. On Instagram, dreams present possibility. An office worker each week converts to a writer, makeup artist or fitness inspo online. Social media triggers mental health issues and yet opens escapism.
Instagram likes collectively emphasise escapism, gratification and acceptance. Whether you use for fun, business, or blog views, likes hold abundant power – mostly pointless – always inspected.
Do you agree? How do you feel about Instagram likes?