Be honest. How many times have you looked at someone else’s Instagram, craving the X number of likes they have? For me, my Instragram “like” range hovers around 35. That’s decent. Better than my older brother, better than my mom (but let’s be real, she follows maybe 15 people), better than a few friends off I can think of off the top of my head. What does it mean? Does that mean only 35 people enjoyed my picture? But wait, (Insert name of your close friend) didn’t like it. Why didn’t she like it? Did I piss her off? What does that mean? I liked her Instagram yesterday! These questions, while they may seem exaggerated, do come up. Maybe you don’t say them aloud, and maybe you’ve never thought about them, but they aren’t as far-fetched as you might think.
Since when did getting likes determined just how liked you are? When did your self-esteem and self-worth become so contingent on your popularity on social media? How many times do you check your Instagram after you’ve posted it, longing to see the little heart on the bottom flash orange?
Sometimes the insecurities are subtler, and you don’t even realize that your heart’s beating a little bit faster after checking your un-liked Instagram after fives minutes. Other times you’ll be a little more explicit. Five minutes without a like? Fine. People are probably not checking their Instagram this time of day. If ten minutes roll by, you have a serious choice to make: either you delete the Instagram, hoping no one has scrolled by it, or you spring into action. That means texting a friend, sibling, or group thread to ask if it’s (insert whatever is applicable: cute, artsy, embarrassing, funny). Sound familiar? Maybe you haven’t done this yourself, but I guarantee you know someone who has.
Every day, the Internet gets bigger. Social media never sleeps, and it’s everywhere you look. It’s part of your everyday routine, and there’s no turning back. It can be too consuming. If you post a picture to Instagram, you’ll most likely check it constantly throughout that day. You could try to turn off your phone for an extended period of time, but how long could you really go without checking it? You’ve seen the picture already, yet you’ll probably look at it again countless times to think about many likes it really deserves.
I’m not advocating for a change in social media. It’s practically unavoidable. I just want people to step back every so often and think about how many likes they get on their Instagram actually means. If the guy you just hung out with liked your last Instagram but not your most recent one, it means nothing. Instead of trying to analyze each like, as yourself “Why am I even thinking about this?”
Losses loom larger than gains. Negativity dominance. Psychology majors out there will recognize the concepts. We tend to focus on the negatives, expect the worse, and think of the glass half empty. But getting likes feels good. We need reassurance that we’re doing something right and that we have people who care. Instead of running through a mental list of the people who didn’t like your Instagram, appreciate the one’s who did. Ask yourself why you’re feeling so insecure about a picture that has nothing to do with how much people like you. That’s the issue. How much does it really matter how many likes you get on your Instagram? Maybe it means a whole lot. Find a way to care less, because you should.
I’m not above any of the things I am saying. In fact, I’m guilty of having done all of these at some point. There’s no use in denying it. Someone might say I’m embarrassing myself by admitting to these thoughts, but I’m not ashamed. I’ve learned that hiding your flaws and insecurities will hurt you in the long run. The people who come out the strongest are the one’s who will admit to what makes them insecure. People appreciate honesty more than you would expect.