INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Whether you like it or not, Instagram is testing removing “likes” from their platform as a way to keep your mental health in check.
Instagram has taken measures in the past to cut down on bullying and fake likes, and now they’re tackling mental health. But Dr. Kristine Chapleau, a clinical psychologist with IU Health, says “likes” or no “likes,” social media is an unhealthy environment.
When you get on social media and create an awesome post, your brain is creating dopamine with every new “like” that comes in.
“It feels good because I feel the approval or people that I know like my pictures or what I post,” Nayele Cortez said. “So it feels good.”
But when you start comparing how many “likes” you got to someone else’s post, it becomes unhealthy.
“A lot of people take it very seriously,” Samir Ikram said. “It’s all about that social falling . You know, how many people they have on social — I don’t know what it is — the ‘likes’ and the number of friends.”
“When we feel like we’re being excluded or ignored or disapproved of we actually feel that as well and it actually is akin to physical pain,” Chapleau said.
That’s why Instagram is testing letting you see your own “likes,” but hiding the numbers on other people’s posts.
“Yeah, that’s good!” Ikram said. “If there’s no comparison, then that’s really good!”
It may seem healthier, but Chapleau says as long as you’re still keeping track of your own “likes,” it’s not healthy.
“By giving the ‘likes’ and this number, it lets everybody know ‘here’s a number’ right?” Chapleau said. “And because we want to stay in the group, we are really influenced by the number of people that like something. So why have the number at all?”
Chapleau says there’s no age limit on people wanting to fit in and be valued, so if it’s becoming a problem — hurting your self-esteem or taking you away from healthy real-life relationships — you rather than the social media company need to take action.
“If you really want to fix the problem, if somebody is experiencing a lot of ostracism and threats which are really extreme, the only thing you can do is just be, like, ‘Well, maybe it’s the platform that’s doing it. So that would be something, just to delete it and then actually focus on real relationships,” Chapleau said.
If you’re not included in the global test, you can still see “like” counts. Chapleau says if you start to find yourself checking your posts repeatedly, feeling a little down and insecure, or really getting envious of others, it may be time to take a break from social media.