I joined Instagram in 2016 after a friend of mine told me that Instagram was an imperative part of modern day living and that I was now well and truly living in the dark ages. I decided that after six years of putting off the inevitable, it was time to succumb to the pressure and give up my simple cave woman existence. By then, there were already a billion people using the app. It was and still Is, the second most downloaded free app across the world. I was fashionably late as per usual.
These numbers are almost unbelievable even after seeing the sheer scale of the content spammed on to our screens each day, it is relentless. Since joining, the app has become an unhealthy addiction. I am undoubtedly alone in saying, it is now something I check first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to bed at night. It has sadly become a subconscious motion to scroll through, a motion which I have to actively avoid opening each time I pick up my phone. 63% of all Instagram users will login at least once a day and in doing so spend an average of half an hour on the app. Is this considered time well spent?
I am certainly not condoning the social media platform. It does a lot of good things, helps to promote small businesses, lets our creativity shine, gives us a wider market audience, provides ideas and inspiration from anything from outfit ideas to career motivation. Do these few bonuses outweigh the negative impact it surely has on our life; this is for you to decide. Instagram does have a way of combining all your memories and life experiences so that your best times look exactly like your worst. This is obviously not how life works for most people and so ever since the inception of Instagram in to our lives, mental health experts have been debating what effect this insatiable obsession with the highlight reel on the way other people are living is having on us as individuals.
Hint..its not great.
Over the past couple of years that very conversation has become louder and much more profound. It has made influencers and celebrities, the people for whom Instagram should work the best for, asking themselves if they have been complicit in an app which has created an addiction to virtual validation.
Instagram is plagued by marketing, influencers and unscrupulous businesses colluding their audience, making themselves look more successful and more popular than they really are. Their popularity and fame on the platform is down to the traffic they recieve on each post. It’s not even that difficult to do, we all have that one friend who’s following grew from 200 to 4000 over night. Thanks to techy tricks these things are pretty common. The thing we all want to know; is can we really trust these companies when they are so obviously trying to manipulate us all.
As of last year, Instagram is trying to atone for warping each of our perceptions on reality and giving each of us a fascination with the number of likes we receive. It now hides the ‘likes’ we receive from other Instagram users in Australia, Japan, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and many more.
This statement from Mia Garlick, a Facebook employer was issued at the end of last year:
‘We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing all the things you love’
This isn’t really a bad move for us users small time of Instagram and realisticly it won’t even really change much for influencers and celebrities who rely on showing the popularity of themselves or their product. Instead of receiving ‘likes’ their millions of followers can simply share a comment.
‘view all 179 comments.’
But if Facebook owns Instagram then why bother? The timing here was interesting. Instagram revienues from advertisments grew by close to 180% during the final period of 2018, compared to 40% for facebook. Impressions for Instagram are also up by 200% while facebook suffered a 17% loss. With youtube also gaining a massive market share as part of a new google advertising network, facebook must focus onadvertising and creating brand brand promises that include a high level of trust, a level of trust we have sadly lost on Instagram over the past few years.
This is not necessarily a negative stratergy for the users of, instagram but the users are not the point here. This is a business decision which, as always, had advertsing and tangiable numbers at the forefront.
The important thing to remember here is that Instagram and facebook are businesses themselves. Don’t be deluded by their sudden concern about our mental health and the frenzy surrounding our wellbeing. Their compassion extends as far as keeping your loyalty to the business and to continue making them money.
For me personally I think that the removal of the likes is a step in the right direction. For young people especially who have grown up in the social media mania, this is a positive improvement to the app and will, I hope remove the pressure of popularity among peers. However we must be mindful of the fact that this all as sweet and innocent as they are making out and they are still the cogs behind the biggest movement of the 21stcentury.