I suppose that as Australians we should feel proud. Our country has been chosen as just the second location, after Canada, for Instagram’s rollout of its new experiment in “hiding” Likes. Contrary to what you may have heard, Instagram isn’t getting rid of Likes, but from now on you won’t be able to see how many Likes someone else’s posts have received. You can see the number of Likes on your own pics, and click through to see who has liked other posts, but you won’t see the number.
Instagram – now owned by Facebook – says the move is designed to remove the element of “competition” from Instagram posting. The idea is, if people can’t see how many Likes others have, they won’t be fixated on “beating” each other, and will, rather, simply focus on producing great content, with the innocent purity of intent that all gigantic global social media companies are founded on.
It’s a lovely idea, with the only real flaw being that if you remove the element of competition from Instagram, what exactly is the point of Instagram? Trying to eliminate competitiveness between Instagram users is like trying to eliminate hatred between Twitter users: it’s a denial of the service’s entire raison d’etre.
There may be a few people on Instagram who are there just to share a few nice snaps with friends and family. But the engine that drives the mighty machine is the insatiable human urge to outdo other people, the relentless drive for fame, fortune and status that we all share. Do the geniuses running Instagram really think their app would’ve taken off like it did without the ferocious and frantic race to be the one with the most Likes?
I mean, honestly, if you’re not getting on Instagram to compare Like tallies, what on earth are you there for? Pictures of toast? Models waving at sunsets over inspiring quotes about self-esteem? For the vast majority of Insta users, the photos themselves are far less interesting than their ranking in the great worldwide game of Who Is Most Liked. If you can enjoy Instagram without seeing Like numbers, you’re the sort of person who watches the Ashes just hoping everyone has a good time.
Moreover, there’s another very important function that Instagram provides. In today’s world, it’s one of the only truly reliable ways of determining who Matters and who Does Not Matter. And it’s so easy: just check the Like score and compare. Now Instagram has pitched us into an era when we have to judge people by their character or achievements, like it’s the Dark Ages or something.
So go ahead, Instagram. Hide those Likes, if it makes you happy. Just know, you’re destroying yourselves. It’ll end in tears.