Instagram without hearts? YouTube without paws down? No eggs, after all, a lajk is money

Can you imagine Instagram without hearts and Facebook without likes? YouTube without paws down? Twitter without a sharing counter? It's a beautiful vision, but I personally do not believe that it could ever come true. For we know what will prevail, when on the one hand the health of users is at stake, and on the other - money.

As announced, Instagram began in 9 countries to test the version of the site, in which you can not see the number of likes. This is to be the answer to the alarming increase in the negative psychological impact that the most popular website generates especially among young people. Instagram without likes does not cause depression and a sense of loneliness.

Rumor has it that Facebook wants to carry out similar tests, and YouTube announced at the beginning of this year that it is considering removing paws down from the site.

The problem is that I do not believe in these assurances, because it is the counters of likes and make-ups that made us use social media with such intensity.

Hardly anyone remembers that once there were no likes

For the first 5 years of its existence, from 2004 to 2009, Facebook was not a website where what counted was how many comments and likes we had. If someone here remembers the Nasza Klasa service, Facebook was just such our class - a tool used to check what's going on at school, to keep in touch with people with whom life paths have gone.

Then came the year 2007, and the debut of the iPhone in a short time moved the eyeballs of users from personal computers to smartphones, which they always carried with them in their pockets. This Facebook potential could not be wasted. As Cal Newport describes in his book "Digital Minimalism", the smartphone revolution coincided with another event: Facebook's preparation for the listing.

And although Facebook's IPO was not implemented until 2012, it is difficult not to find a correlation between the investor satisfaction test and the rapid search for a way to add users to Facebook.

"Lajk" turned out to be a vein of gold

Adding a simple "Like" button may seem like a small change, but in fact this inconspicuous element has changed everything.

Previously browsing Facebook was quite a passive activity, interwoven with occasional interaction with friends. Certainly, we did not feel the urgent need to check the website many times a day, as we do today. After the introduction of the "lajka", the number of Facebook users not only started to grow rapidly, but also the frequency of visits increased, and as a result - ad revenue, generated on the basis of the number of page views.

Why the "I like this" button turned out to be a bull's-eye for Facebook, and a nail for the coffin for us?

From the psychological side, there are many reasons for this. As you can read in the excellent study " The Secret Psychology of Facebook ", we like posts for several main reasons:

  • This is the simplest way to show our affirmation for a given idea (it's easier to give a lick than to write a comment that commends someone else's statement).
  • This is the easiest way to confirm your own beliefs (we like what is in line with our world view).
  • This is the easiest way to express empathy (joint "lajkowanie" generates a sense of solidarity).
  • We often get something in return (information on interesting topics, the possibility of winning something).

Much more important, however, is the biological mechanism behind the scenario. The studies carried out in 2013 showed a direct correlation between the likes and our awards system . When the post shared on Facebook receives a fondness, our nucleus accumbens, which is one of the elements of this reward system, is activated. And the reward system is the biological basis for obsessions and addictions.

That is why so many of us today are addicted to social media. It's not our fault - it's the colossals like Facebook or Twitter that made us addicted to the instant sense of gratification, which gives us the likes of giving. And it was not a coincidence, but a meticulously planned action, having (initially) only one goal: to regularly attract as many people as possible to earn as much money as possible on ads.

The dark side of the "lajka"

It soon turned out that the seemingly innocent idol does not only make users dependent on the use of a given social network, but it also has a devastating effect on their psyche.

Already in 2010, the first research on the mechanism of likes has shown that not using it causes depression and increases loneliness. Researchers already discovered that if someone tried to passively use Facebook, only "lurking" on the site, without actively liking and commenting posts, was exposed to a sense of rejection, and consequently even depression.

In 2012, the term "Facebook depression" was coined on the basis of the next article, in which researchers showed a correlation between depression and the use of a social networking site.

Today we know that these psychological implications go much deeper. Only last year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted an experiment in which they proved that intensive use of Facebook, Instagrama or Snapchat could increase the sense of loneliness.

Instagram plays a special role here, because it has been proven many times that watching highly selective slices from the lives of other people can cause depression and drive us into complexes. The negative effects of the intensive use of Instagrama complain not only ordinary users, but also the so-called "Influencerzy." As we read in an article on The Guardian , a study conducted under the leadership of Dagnielle Leigh Wagstaff proved that intense use of Instagrama increases the feeling of anxiety and makes us constantly compare to others. As the author of the research convinces, Instagram makes us "receive a false image of what mediocrity looks like, which causes our self-esteem to drop."

What's more, the mechanisms of likes and sharing directly influenced the content that dominates in social media. Extensive research carried out at the request of The New York Times has clearly demonstrated that we respond most willingly and provide content that evokes strong emotions - cheerfulness, fear, anger. This is where the flood of not only funny cats (which in retrospect seem to be the best, what social media have to offer), but also hateful, often false and distorted news, titles aimed at arousing sensation and saying stupidly, which have been for years daily bread of the leading community groups, with Facebook at the forefront.

The icing on the cake of the negative effects of the "I like it" button, here specifically on Facebook, is the so-called. Micro-targeting.

There is a reason why it is said that Facebook knows more about us than we do. Research from 2015 showed that the character assessment made by the machine is much more accurate than the one made by another human. Based on seemingly unrelated likes, Facebook's algorithms are able to easily demonstrate race, gender identity and even political preferences. It is still said that the last of these mechanisms was used on a massive scale in the US presidential election in 2016 . On a daily basis, the combination of the mechanism of liking and tracking our activity in the network allows millions of companies from around the world to accurately target their advertising in us, inducing us to purchase a given product or service.

Will Facebook, Instagram or YouTube suddenly give up?

I greatly appreciate these seeming efforts in caring for our well-being, recently carried out by technological giants. I would like to applaud all "digital well-being", "screening times" and other applications to block applications that are designed to make us slightly independent of our smartphones. However, in social media without the button "I like it" I will not believe it.

Lajk is the main reason why we regularly return to social networking sites. We go there many times to just check how many people have liked what we have to say. How many hearts can be found under the photo just added. How many people watched our Stories.

For social networking sites, liking is a money-making machine. For most businesses (unfortunately), the number of likes is still the key metric when assessing the effectiveness of the promotional campaign. For the average user, the number of "likes" is still - false, but still - a determinant of quality and value.

I do not believe in social media without likes

I do not think that any community members will give up the visible counter, just because in the last decade this mechanism has wreaked havoc on our civilization. Such lofty motives usually lose in the face of the need to generate revenues and investor satisfaction.

Instagram can communicate to the will that they are testing a change because they want recipients to focus on content, not how many people see it and like it.

The problem is that if you can not see the response and you can not check the reach of the post, suddenly users will lose reason to look into the site more often than from time to time to check what's new.

For users it would be a great change. A moment of breath and one negative stimulus in your life less. I do not believe, however, that the good of users will win in the face of the needs of advertisers. And for them, at least until so many minds in Silicon Valley have a better way of assessing user behavior, the number of hearts and impressions is gold.

Occupied with depression and anxiety, but with gold.

Instagram without hearts? YouTube without paws down? No eggs, after all, a lajk is money


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