It’s not surprising that Instagram hid the number of likes that people were getting for a photo. The culture of social media can be ruthless and illusive. We can appear more popular than we are and might look brighter than our beliefs. It all can be an illusion and a facade. Instagram led the way with it because it is picture-based. And a picture, as you know, can say a thousand words but what’s important to remember is that the same picture can say a different set of thousand words to different individuals.
People have blamed Instagram to be a promoter of artifice and superficiality. They’ve called it fake and disingenuous. In fact, some influencers that have made a name primarily from Instagram have built their brand largely on pretty pictures instead of some profound thought behind their account. Their account is literally an account of all the fabulous pictures that they’ve taken everywhere, doing just about anything, with just about anyone. Trust me, I have seen some Instagram influencers asking their Uber drivers to take their picture as they sashay their way into an event. Is it too much? Some might say yes. I say “You do you, girl”. I don’t really know what that expression means. I just know that that’s the most politically correct way of saying “I don’t give a fuck how big a fool you make of yourself as long as people don’t know that I know you”. You get the gist.
Instagram hid likes because our Gen Z’s were becoming depressed when they didn’t score as many likes as their friends did. This was leading to mental health issues. These kids had started to doubt their self worth. Their self-esteem had taken a hit. So Instagram thought that it would hide the likes to the audience and this would make all the difference in the world of adolescent and young adult mental health.
But I didn’t expect Instagram to do anymore than that. It’s not instagram’s problem that we are raising self-absorbed humans who inundate their social media with selfies and beer bong pictures. Instagram didn’t give these kids smart phones when they were eleven. Instagram didn’t raise them up to be entitled to fame and popularity .
We raise kids. Adults raise kids. Adults also have the same tendencies when it comes to social media. We gauge success in real life by success on Instagram. We count followers and unfollow whoever unfollows us. That’s superficial, right? We expect to be the same influence on someone that they are on us. But that expectation is not because we are working on how we can influence people. That expectation is merely from the fact that we follow them. Why would anyone listen to our uninspiring thoughts just because we are listening to their thoughts? May be we don’t inspire the way they inspire us. So the follow for follow rule should go.
Also, Instagram insists that each thought have a picture. Actually the whole monologue that we write underneath a picture is termed “caption” in Instagram world. How eccentric is that? A caption is a fluid sentence of four or five words that describes a picture or an essay. It isn’t a whole thought. Unfortunately Instagram insists that it is. So be it.
While I have not had much trouble with keeping up with most of Instagram’s quirks, the insistence that we have a picture to put a thought out to the world is beyond me. And it wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was a more effective microblogging platform. I would’ve just switched over.
We know Facebook has lost its footing and at least all of my friends are on Instagram. Twitter isn’t for moderately superfluous people. Snapchat is really an atrocity to a millennial like me. The long-read blogs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. In this dearth of microblogging platforms Instagram’s non user friendly approach is a little bit of a sucker punch.
So this is why we see this obsession with the phone and the camera. The constant business of uploading and checking every second how many likes came. The aloofness from situations in real time and space even though we might be conversing about the same space and time with folks who have no idea about anything in our surroundings. This is where some wise man once said “Art imitates Life and Life imitates Art”. This is why I think we have people becoming anxious about their likability when they don’t get the same number of likes on an image as they did on another image the day before. This is why I think this can be too much. This is why Instagram can become a toxic love affair. You get in too soon and too deep. And by the time you get out there are a million pictures of you plastered all over the internet with varying levels of engagement and not a single real person who engaged on them with you. Just your “Gram Fam”. Just your virtual buds. Just your “Insta Sista”.
So I’m an Instagrammer and proud to be able to use it effectively. I just came here to say that don’t get it twisted. Someone else’s social media isn’t our reality. It’s pretty pictures to look at but they aren’t about us and they sometimes aren’t even about the person who posts them. In all truthfulness, sometimes it’s not about anyone. It’s a snippet of someone’s life. It’s a moment in time. It’s a view from above. It’s a quickie in the back of a truck when cheap booze flows. It’s not that elaborate love affair that you always wanted. Don’t give it anymore credence than it deserves.