When will we learn to dislike the like button?

Ryo Weng

We now live in a day and age where the term “metrics” has taken on a whole new meaning. The dictionary definition of “metrics” is “a standard of measurement,” according to Merriam-Webster. However, in today’s current society, this word is being used to describe the merits of someone’s social media account. These achievements refer to the number of followers and friends, likes and retweets. These seemingly meaningless numbers have risen to dominate and control our lives.
American rapper and social media influencer Kanye West posted a tweet on Sept. 20 expressing his opinion regarding how social media platforms should offer the option to hide an account’s metrics. The public responded in many ways, including West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, agreeing with West by tweeting, “Amen to this!”
“[Metrics have] an intense negative impact on our self worth,” West tweeted.
According to PageSix, a celebrity news outlet operated by the New York Post, West deleted all social media including his Instagram and Twitter accounts two weeks after posting this tweet. With West removing his presence from the internet, he is pushing for social change, starting with giving social media users the option to hide their metrics. West has a completely valid point-of-view surrounding this issue. Providing this flexibility would greatly reduce the stresses associated with social media such as maintaining a certain amount of followers or generating enough likes on a post.
It is apparent that social media has evolved in playing a bigger role than simply providing entertainment for the public. What once was a fun way to share pictures and communicate with friends has transformed into a competition of who can get more likes and gain the most followers.
According to a recent self-reported survey conducted by the Bark, 50 percent of students said that they cared about the amount of likes they receive on any given post. Not only does this create a false sense of reality, which affects our self-worth, but it is also driving the addiction and unhealthy habits that come with social media.
While social media is meant to connect people from around the world, a recent Cosmopolitan study has actually proven the opposite.
According to Cosmopolitan, people who spend more than two hours on social media a day significantly increase their chances of feeling socially isolated, rather than feeling closer to peers.
The whole system behind giving and receiving likes is rather trivial. There is no real thought that goes into liking someone’s post, yet such a small gesture has a major effect on the receiving end. By offering the option to hide the number of likes a post generates, this concern would be eliminated altogether. The border between receiving a compliment in person and a stranger double tapping their screen has blended together to alter the way people receive praise.
As a user of social media myself, I am familiar with the content uploaded online. From snaps relaxing by the pool to aerial pictures of expensive dinners in the city, people only show the highlights of their life. This sets the bar high, and for people who are not as privileged, seeing these ideal fragments of a seemingly flawless life may lower their self-esteem. With how easy uploading content is, users can filter out and selectively choose which moments to post, often portraying their life to be different than their reality. This becomes more prominent with younger crowds absorbing these practices from early on, instilling unrealistic expectations of life in forthcoming generations.
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become aware of the effects of having these metrics on public display, and have created demetricators to address the situation. These extensions from the conventional platforms give users the option to hide their metrics. Having this option on social media isolates the content and disregards what other people have thought about the post, prompting their own genuine reflection.
Additionally, VSCO (Visual Supply Company) is an application where users can upload pictures without worrying about the number of likes they receive or how many people have followed them. It primarily focuses the attention on the actual content of the post, discarding any societal pressure that comes with meeting certain standards. Unlike other conventional social media apps, VSCO is headed in the right direction, as users are free to enjoy their feed without the distractions of an account’s metrics.
Opposing views claim that showing the number of followers an account credibilizes a post. For example, a news outlet would be more appealing to someone if they had a high number of followers. While this may be true, people should not be resorting to social media for their daily news intake. Users scrolling through Twitter and Instagram should not be expecting sufficient news reports, especially since we live in an era where misleading news is prevalent. Going to a publication’s actual site and reading an article is a viable way of receiving news.
Additionally, those who are satisfied with the number of likes their posts generate are boosted by false confidence. Likes do not matter in reality; they will never provide an honest indication of a person’s true character and values. This false confidence obstructs the pathway between what is real and virtual.
Due to likes and followers being visible to the public, there are people who are trying to “seek validation” in a virtual world where none of that matters. This supports West’s thinking that metrics are translating into how people truly value themselves.
According to NBC News, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed there to be increasing suicide rates, with reason to believe are the drawbacks of social media.
Every so often, I hear about someone deleting their social media accounts. Whether the motivation may be to take a break from the virtual world, or to step back from the mental stress commonly associated with social media, it is clear that metrics have found a way to affect our presence online, as well as in the real world.
Social media platforms should offer the option to de-metrify accounts to appeal to those who strive for untainted and genuine content. The number of likes, followers and friends have clustered together in a flurry, distracting users from the real purpose of social media. These metrics force users into a virtual simulation, competing for useless titles, altering their value of self-worth.