Stop Looking for Instagram Likes and Comments

Let’s get right to it, across Instagram these days, it’s widely understood that people often post hoping to receive high amounts of likes and comments. Perhaps it’s for reasons relating to validation and approval, perhaps it’s related to security found in belonging or fitting in, or maybe it’s for a desire for popularity, whatever the case is, it exists. Maybe you don’t relate to this and if not, hurrah! Nonetheless, it still exists far more than it should. We see these positive reactions consisting of likes and comments on the posts of those verified users we follow, on photos from individuals’ personal accounts celebrating special moments, and on posts that appear attractive. Not all of these examples come with a negative connotation, for example, personal celebrations should, by all means, be shared with those around you. Rather, this caution comes from habits such as users purchasing likes or deleting posts if it doesn’t get them ‘enough’ attention within a certain amount of time, pointing to deeper issues than these on the surface. Likes and comments aren’t necessarily a bad thing per se but it’s when our motivation for the post becomes cloudy that we must stop and check ourselves.

Perhaps you’re reading this from the point of view of a personal user, that of a social media co-ordinator or that of a business or organization account possibly run by more people than just yourself. If you’re posting for validation or approval, it might be best not to post until you’ve dealt with those personal things and resolved that tension because the reality is, your posts—let alone, you—are much more than a measurement on Instagram. A user’s like or lack thereof is not synonymous to the quality of your post. This is the framework we need to keep in mind at all times. Your ‘success’ or ‘worth’ is not measured by likes, comments, shares, or followers. It won’t be until you truly believe this, that you experience healthy freedom in your Instagram usage.

It’s due to the sought-out and ill-perceived 'reward’ of these positive reactions that cause users to see a lot of similar-looking posts on Instagram. Once people recognize that a certain type of post gains a lot of attention, they try to replicate it for similar attention. Except when we do this, our posts lose a sense of honesty and originality in that they’re likely not coming from that special place within the heart of a matter that causes us to want to communicate the things that are truly meaningful to us. You and the work you are contributing to is respected for its uniqueness in which it is set apart from others, authentic, and thought-provoking. You have a purpose to serve, a message to share, and a way of doing things that could probably inspire others and create positive change, so don’t conceal these truths by echoing the posts of those you see around you to attain a certain satisfaction.

Now having said all of this, maintaining this mindset requires critical confrontation with oneself. Allow me to clarify that this is not an encouragement to post something offensive or confusing, which would hinder the reaction of other users, nor am I encouraging you to start posting your church’s upcoming series at 2 AM, where it reaches will be little. If you’re posting to announce something to your church or conveying an important message, of course, you want your target audience to see it. Neither excellence nor effectiveness is discouraged in posts rather, it must be defined and held in an appropriate context. A ‘good’ post, which can be understood as one brimming with excellence must not be equated to the positive reaction it receives. Excellence does not simply mean visually appealing or glamorous rather, excellence can be well thought out, encouraging, truth-bearing, and unlike that of anything before. Moreover, the same goes for effectiveness in that it is not equated to such positive reactions. Perhaps your post gets 20 likes instead of 200 000, that doesn’t mean it’s any less purposeful—this isn’t sugar-coated support of sympathy but a blatant matter of fact.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine asked me, “why do you post the things you do?” It wasn’t a critique or rebuke of any sort, but a thought for me to hold on to and keep in my pocket for when I do post and honestly, I try to hold myself accountable by asking myself this before posting much of the time. Is there something I’m trying to achieve, if so, what is that thing? Is it healthy or unhealthy? Does it affect my well-being in any way at all? What is it that I am genuinely trying to communicate to others through this post? Your desired result or objective should have to do with the meaning and big picture behind your post, not users’ reaction to the post.

By: Jessica Cluett