Would you still use Instagram if your likes were no longer publicly displayed?
Kanye West took to Twitter with a surprising idea on the weekend. When discussing social media, Kanye believe that some people care far too much about how many followers and likes that people have, and sometimes look at those as validation or a count on their self worth which has a drastic negative impact on people’s mental health. Or as he more eloquently put it…
“Having your amount of likes on display for the world to see and judge is like showing how much money you have in the bank or having to write the size of your d**k on a shirt.”
“Speaking for myself I personally want to participate in social media with the option of not having to show my followers or likes.” Ye tweeted.
It also caught the attention of Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. "We've been thinking deeply about the follower and like counts, and what that incentivizes. We want to change. What made sense 12 years ago doesn't make sense today," Dorsey texted the star, according to a screenshot of the conversation West posted on Instagram. "As least for us. Us making that number bold and big incentivized people to want to increase it, and feel bad if they couldn't. That's not right. We want to incentivize contribution to the global conversation and consciousness."
Social Media has become a major part of our lives – so much so, that a huge 60% of people using it reported that it’s impacted their self-esteem in a negative way. 50% also reported social media having negative effect on their relationships. And according to many studies, including the ones cited by Huffington Post (loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissim, and decreased social skills), you have to wonder if we’re only doing more damage to ourselves participating.
Kanye’s bold statement has received a fair few mixed reviews. Here’s what we think…
"I can’t say numbers don’t matter, but the value everyone places on these numbers needs to be reconsidered. There’s no doubt that people are drowning in how many likes they get on a photo, or how many followers they have on the ‘gram (and I know because I used to be one of them!). Instagram causes humans to compare and contrast their lives with others. People buying houses, travelling the world, getting married, successes at work or setting up their own business, and more, and it’s causing more anguish than it is propelling themselves to their own goals. We now have a generation of young people with the poorest body image and body confidence ever recorded, and social media has played a big part in that.
But social media ain’t all bad…It’s provided a platform to interact with like-minded people, and many social movements started on social media just through Likes and Retweets.
But going back to Kanye’s idea…will hiding Likes and Followers really help? I’m not knocking the idea completely, and fair play to Yeezy for having these conversations so openly, but I don’t think it's addressing the root of the issue. It’s only scratching the surface. We need to deal with the real issue of self-worth.
Time will tell if Instagram, Twitter or any other social media accounts will go down this route, but you have to admit, an online environment where Likes and Followers weren’t public does sounds pretty intriguing…"
"First of all we should commend Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Jack Dorsey (the CEO of Twitter) for speaking with honesty and maturity about such an important topic. Mental health is a growing problem across the world and social media has definitely played a part. I find Kanye's idea hard to argue with, but I still find myself disagreeing anyway.
I guess it's because turning off the numbers isn't necessarily the silver bullet we might be looking for. And in doing that, you do sabotage a big feature of social media, where you can see quickly and immediately what others agree or disagree with; and test approval or disapproval of ideas or concepts.
Mental health is everyone's responsibility. So while I agree, it is an interesting idea (I would love to see a scientific trial of such a change), the issue probably runs deeper. But hey, if it happens, I'll be excited to see the results!"
"Ooooo this is a juicy one! Honestly, my first thought was ‘cool, sounds great’. Then I read into it a little more and had a deeper think. Is the answer to remove the numbers or to help and support people to care less about the numbers? Even as I write this I realise that latter point is pretty unrealistic.
The thing is, we are pretty insecure little creatures, us humans, even those of us who claim not to be. Numbers make our insecurities easier to measure and exacerbate them perhaps…but they don’t create them. So could this help people feel better about themselves? Maybe, but I doubt it. Especially if, as Kanye suggests (feels weird just using his first name), we can turn our follows/likes on or off. Some people will, some people won’t…and those that do will see those that don’t and feel insecure - Or they’ll look at their number of shares, or comments or whatever and compare it to themselves. Helping people to feel more happy with themselves just as they are, has to be the goal…but I very much doubt there is an easy ‘switch’ that will turn this off. Oh and from a marketing perspective?
Well, things change in social media all the time, we’ll figure out a solution, we’ll adapt, we always do….it’s our job!"
"I’d have to say my instant reaction to this suggestion was a positive one. It’s hard to predict what kind of impact hiding follower counts would have on Average Joe but working in social marketing does make you question how it might change your usage of it as a tool as well.
The socially conscious portion of me feels that removing a number that promotes some element of idolising, or rating of one person over another can only be a good thing. The more detached, logical side of me wonders what kind of social measurement would replace it.
Using social media as a tool requires you to consider the number of followers you and other influential accounts may have, because it helps to understand what kind of reach you might be able to obtain. From a business perspective it makes complete sense to monitor, but when you have a real person behind the numbers it’s also important to consider what kind of mental health impact these measurements have as well.
Maybe this will drive people to interact more with content rather than individuals, or with conversations around topics rather than what one specific person posts. It could even drive people away from social media if it makes it harder to signpost what seems trusted and legitimate, especially if algorithms are pushing content towards people that they are going to like.
If it causes more good than harm, then I think it’s worth at least trialling."
"I can certainly support the idea of removing follower count as a tool for measuring success, in most cases it isn’t helpful, both from a business and personal perspectives. Businesses use it as it’s an easy metric to understand which results in too much importance being attributed to it when in most cases it doesn’t contribute to the businesses goals. Some people can get caught up in feeling that they need to have thousands of followers and may lead people to alter their behaviour to put out things just to increase their follower count.
The follower count metric is useful as a factor in evaluating a user’s community size. It’s useful for users to know that there are communities that think like them and businesses need to know if they work with an influencer they can reach a certain size community.
From a purely mental health perspective I think it’s more important to promote the idea that more followers doesn’t equal success rather than hiding the number itself."
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