Back in the good old days, hitting double digits for likes on an Instagram photo made you feel like you’d made it. When the names of who liked your photo turned to numbers, it felt even better. But then you realised that you only had 24 likes, and your friend had 40. Now the numbers are multiplied even further. On a good day I can get 200 likes on an Instagram photo and on the bad days, maybe I’ll get 50. And does it make me feel bad when I see those lower numbers. Yeah, kind of.
It feels like I’m admitting a strange secret. It almost feels pathetic. Surely the number of likes on an Instagram photo shouldn’t factor into whether I have a good day or not. But we love the likes. We live on the likes we receive. And when we don’t get them, it hurts.
There are a million more important things to worry about: health, relationships, getting a degree, buying a house, having enough money to live on, the state of the country. So why are so fixated on social media likes?
Humans crave attention and of course we’re going to go find it in the easiest ways. Thankfully for the internet, social media is a shortcut to feeling good about ourselves. The likes satisfy us, however fleetingly. Everyone likes to be liked and someone pressing a button on their screen makes you feel better about yourself.
So is there something wrong with us for craving this gratification? I don’t think so. In the same way that we feel good about ourselves briefly when we get lots of attention on a photo, we don’t sit in sorrow when we don’t achieve our wanted number of likes (it just makes us feel sad for a millisecond). It’s just easier to gain and lose people’s attention nowadays. And I think as long as you’re aware of this then it’s not so harmful.
If posting a photo and getting lots of likes makes you feel good then post away, but if you’re feeling sad when you don’t get as many likes as you want, maybe it’s time to take a little break from the apps that are making you feel this way.
When someone likes my photos, I try not to feel like it’s any kind of reflection on me. It’s just a photo and all people need to do is press a button to like it. It can mean as little or as much as you want it to, but sometimes it’s better not to think too much into it.
Do likes on social media make you feel good? Or do you see them as superficial?