Need for Views and Likes

Michael Liu, Writer

Social media has changed the way we interact with those around us. Long waits for a response from a letter, or even face to face interaction is no longer necessary. Social media provides immediacy. Someone can discover another’s interests, hobbies, family, and more in a matter of minutes without even meeting in person.

In 2009, Leah Pearlman created the famous like button. Now people had the ability to express interest or appreciation in a post without even writing a word and has changed social media forever. Likes catalyzed the new phenomenon of receiving instant praise and reinforcement from hundreds to millions of people online. Although this new form of self expression has many positive effects, there is also a dark side.

First of all, why do people even seek these likes? Likes have a simple purpose: validation.

These hearts or thumbs up emojis that users can receive on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can give people the sense of acceptance, importance, and popularity. Even though one may not care a lot about likes, receiving a like can still make one feel good.

According to senior Maya Mardesich, “When you’re receiving likes from hundreds of people who you barely talk to, it gives a false sense of validation. In my mind, likes and views don’t mean anything to me, but in reality, it’s a nice feeling to think that people like what you’re putting on the internet.”

Social media today has created an environment where people are constantly being surveyed by their peers. It’s human nature to seek approval of those around us. However, it becomes a problem when one becomes obsessed on seeking the approval of those around, and one’s mood is based on others’ opinions.

Senior Rae Kanoa said, “I used to be really obsessive over my likes and negative comments, and it just sucked so much time and energy out of me.

According to the Dove Self Esteem project, two-thirds of women felt prettier online than in real life. In addition, 60% of university students have admitted that likes and social media in general have caused negative effects to their confidence.  

Senior Margaret Tajirian stated, “Likes made me feel insecure because I would wonder why I wasn’t getting as many likes, and why certain people purposely don’t like your photo.”

Likes have become such an essential part of the social media experience that there has even been research done to teach social media users on how to receive the most amount of likes as possible. Advice such as the best time to post are weekends between 7-9 pm. There are even apps that keep track of what time receives the most likes and comments on a user’s account.

According to Mardesich, “I have deleted photos that don’t get enough likes. Although I haven’t  done it in a while, It just shows how much I let strangers control how I feel about myself and the content I put out for everyone to see.”

The purpose of likes was to provide users a more convenient way to show interest and appreciation on another’s post. However, without self control, likes can easily affect someone’s self confidence in a negative way, especially when likes are the source of one’s validation and self worth. One’s self worth should not be determined by the click of a mouse or the double tap on one’s screen, but solely by the individual.