a woman liking pictures on social media.

The Effect of ‘Likes’

Less than 20 years ago, we would have no idea what the concept of a “like” was. Now, it’s something that most of us have floating in the back of our minds. Likes not only can determine a person’s mood but their confidence, ego, and their sense of self. People have begun to determine their personal and social status based on the number of likes, followers, shares, and engagement they get online. 


It sounds like an episode of Black Mirror that has gone wrong. Sadly, most of us struggle with this reality, but tech companies and social media platforms are now taking responsibility. Social media can be a dangerous place, especially for young adults, because of how it can affect mental health. It can be dangerous for young girls to look up to influencers that portray unrealistic expectations of beauty. It can also be toxic because it leads to comparisons of beauty, likability, etc. 


Not all influencers on social media portray this negativity, but companies must take control of this mental health epidemic. As we all know, Instagram reversed the ability to see how many likes a post received. This had a major impact on the pressure to get a lot of likes and compare yourself to others. Surprisingly, the switch to no ‘likes’ went over well in the Instagram community. Although many users were arguing against the decision, Instagram now offers the option to keep or hide likes. 


It is crucial to combat the issue that likes bring, but it also affects business. Before likes were erased, influencers used to get brand deals, followers, etc., because of the number of likes they received on posts. At first, many were worried it would affect their business and ability to make money, but it changed the business of influencer marketing. The removal of likes gave influencers the ability to make money without likes. Instead, they were able to post more authentic content because likes no longer mattered. The game changed from quantity to quality. 


The next big tech company to make a change is YouTube. YouTube recently announced that over time they are going to disable the dislike button on videos. The dislike button has a similar, if not worse effect, on creators. It is discouraging and disappointing for creators to get a lot of dislikes on a video because they feel their content is not good enough.


YouTube wants to switch gears and focus on the positivity of the platform by getting rid of dislikes. Creators become discouraged from creating content and feel inadequate, and it looks like this change will benefit them for the better. Individuals are arguing against the removal of the dislike button because it helps to gauge whether the content is good or not. 


Whether you agree or disagree with likes/dislikes, these platforms must take responsibility for the potential harm they cause. Social media is the most popular source of entertainment for younger generations, and users and creators need protection at all costs.