The phenomenon of social media is, to me, one of the most interesting of our time. With the creation of the Internet, our culture has been transformed in so many ways. One of the ways in which it has been transformed is the appearance of social media.
Social media are websites, apps, etc. on which people can communicate and stay up to date with what’s going on in the lives of their friends and family. Social media platforms are also used by artists, models, and all kinds of celebrities to connect to and engage with large audiences.
People can ‘post’ on social media. Posting is the main form of content and communication on social media. What a post is depends on the social media platform. On Twitter, you can write a short message that actually has a low maximum number of characters one can use, which makes the type of content posted on Twitter more similar to small thoughts, ideas, or announcements. On Instagram, people upload pictures, which they can attach messages to. While pictures can be posted on Twitter and Facebook as well, Instagram focuses more on the pictures, so the atmosphere of Instagram is very different.
Whether it’s a post on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, a piece of writing, a picture, or a video (or even a combination of these), the posts can all be interacted with by other people through a ‘like’ system. If you like the post, find it interesting, etc. you can click a button that will increase the ‘like’ counter for that post. The number of likes of a post basically represents how popular it is.
A lot of people measure the success of their post based on the number of likes it has. Some people can obsess over getting more and more likes on their pictures, perhaps either to feel good about themselves or to increase awareness for a product, idea, etc.
Instagram tried something interesting, though. They decided to do an experiment where they hid the number of likes of a post to everyone except the person who posted it. I’m not 100% sure what the purpose of the experiment was, but I think it was probably to see how it affected people’s attitude to posting and getting as many likes as they can.
There’s also the issue that some people most frequently like posts that are already popular. By hiding the number of likes to the public, perhaps Instagram hoped that likes would be more distributed across popular and less-popular posts, to be fairer. It’s like the issue of ‘the rich get richer’, but in social media form.
I think this experiment was successful because Instagram is still keeping this system in place. I personally think it’s a nice idea. There’s not really any reason for the public to see the number of likes on a post other than to simply know how many people have viewed it. It can help to know how far a video or post has reached if it’s important, but other than that I don’t see why we should know how popular social media posts are. Besides, it helps people decide whether to like a post based more on their own opinion rather than the opinion of others.
In addition, people who post don’t have to worry about being judged by others based on how many likes their posts have, which is a nice benefit on a personal level. There is the option of scrolling through the list of individuals who liked a post and counting them manually, but I seriously doubt many people would do that if the number is even above 50.
I wonder if this feature will eventually make its way to other social media platforms that have a ‘like’ system.
post (verb) – to upload something to a website, app, etc.
character (noun) – a number, letter, symbol, etc.
obsess (verb) – to focus on something more than what is normal or healthy
keep something in place (phrase) – to leave something as it is and not move or change it