Any user of Instagram (so – everyone you know…) is well acquainted with the metrics of the platform. Post a photo and get some likes. Add some hashtags and get more likes. Increase followers and get even more likes. Now, I’m not saying that everyone’s motive for sharing is based on the validation of ‘likes’, and I do wonder if when Kevin and Mike sat down and created this thing they even envisaged that the ability to show your friends that you’re into what they’re sharing would become a global metric for measuring popularity and seeking validation?
I do think that we have a huge problem around personal value and self-worth though, and according to some studies Instagram stands as the worst social media app for young people’s mental health.
Well, Instagram has announced that they are going to be running a test for users in Canada starting later this week where post likes are hidden. The ability to see likes will still be available to the person posting but will be hidden from everyone else.
Psychologically speaking, there is a significant difference between internal and external validation, or maybe a better way to consider it here; personal versus public validation. Receiving likes that only you see can creates personal validation – a feeling of “I did good and I did it for me”, receiving likes that everyone can see creates public validation. When we start to rely on public validation to find our value and Instagram provides a way of seeking it, we will constantly be measuring ourselves compared to others and asking the question of “am I good enough?”.
In a world where a graceful, loving God has already answered the question for us – I am a total supporter of one of the most influential digital platforms on the planet refocussing what validation looks like.