Before I post a photo on Instagram, I quietly calculate how many likes it will probably receive compared to my friends’ posts.
This comparison is because of my obsessive need to be liked online.
There, I said it.
It’s a problem for me and probably millions of other millennials in the world. Instead of chasing perfection and posting a filtered selfie, we should be comfortable presenting our authentic selves in and outside of social media.
Recently, a rumor circulated online that Instagram was removing users’ ability to view the number of likes on other users’ posts. Although the rumor was debunked, maybe the idea has merit.
If displayed likes were taken away, I’d probably consider posting less stylized photos in favor of genuine candid moments. That way, I don’t have to worry whether my posts are worthy of likes from followers I don’t even know.
The lack of authenticity we display on social media outlets just because we want to garner the most likes eventually bleeds into our daily lives outside our phones.
Since the creation of Xanga, a now dated site that was also my first entrance into the social media universe, I have pitted myself against people, judging if they were more or less popular than I was.
Looking back, there was no need for a then 12-year-old to already compare himself to others.
We become products of social media and the little red hearts that appear on our timeline. That’s not healthy. More importantly, that’s not staying true to who we really are.
There is power in the digital form of accessibility and we should capitalize on it. Through social media, we are able to connect with friends that we would otherwise not meet in person.
Our society is still adapting to the rapid rate that we receive and dispense information online.
What we should not allow are photos, statuses and memes to get the best of us or to divert our attention from life beyond our screens.
In the past, taking breaks from social media has helped me evaluate where my priorities lie. With school and a consistent job, I don’t have free time to scroll through likes and post photos like I used to. That’s a good thing.
Whether a break lasts a few days or a few months, diverting our attention can be a sufficient way of balancing life. Most phone platforms offer trackers that show how much time you use social media.
Whether it’s a break or limited use of social media, we should look past the likes. Instead, live your life authentically both online and offline.