Instagram likes: the drugs of now and the future

Everybody with an active Instagram account knows it: the euphoric feeling of getting a like. You post a picture on the gram and don’t know what to expect. How many likes will I get? Would people react something nice in the comment section? The moment a like or comment flows in, is a moment of euphoria, you want more.

It’s the drug of the 21st century. Likes and comments on Instagram can awaken a certain substance in your brain. This substance is called dopamine. If this is activated, then you want more of the thing that caused the activation. For this reason you can actually get addicted to it. Instagram noticed that its users cared too much about the likes and therefore the platform took action. Instagram removed the visibility of the amount of likes on photos as a test in certain areas of the world. You now see for example ‘kweekcom and others like this’ instead of ‘kweekcom and 251 others like this’.

But why are those likes so addicting for people? Humans are social beings and group animals. They want to belong to something and are constantly looking for social affirmation. With the occurrence of social media, this has gotten a lot easier compared to the past. Each like of comment could actually be seen as a splash of social affirmation. You see that other people like you and you feel appreciated. This gives you a feeling of pleasure and that feeling is caused by the well-known substance dopamine. This only causes you to want more and it will keep you online and active in posting stuff.

How can you discover if you are addicted to Instagram likes?

There are several things that might sound familiar to you. All those things can be signs of having an addiction. Do you for example remember which of your photos had the most likes and which photos the least? Do you take like fifty pictures first and then choose the best one to post? Do you always make sure that the photo fits your ‘feed’? Or do you even remove a picture when it has not enough likes according to you? If you answered yes suspiciously often, then there is a chance that you’re maybe a little addicted to likes as well.

Nowadays it is very difficult for people to not be on social media. It just has become a part of our everyday lives. With the coming of social media the term #FOMO has slowly been thrown into society. This means Fear Of Missing Out. People are afraid to miss something when they don’t use social media. Also, it’s expected that you are accessible 24/7 via for example Whatsapp, everybody knows the feeling. When you don’t respond for a moment, people already think that something has happened. The social pressure has increased a lot in the past decade and with likes you can ‘prove’ the world that you’re a ‘nice and fun person’. At least, that’s what’s between many people’s ears.

To decrease the social pressure, a lot of measures will probably be taken in the future. Instagram has already started this ‘trend’ by hiding likes on some pictures. Who knows what’s next…?