You’re on Facebook and a notification pops up at the bottom of your screen. Your friend liked your status. You smile, a little burst of satisfaction rolls through you. Someone appreciated what you said, someone appreciates you. But then you click on the notification and see your friend is the only one who liked the status so far.
You don’t understand. You thought your status was quite clever. Why haven’t more people liked it? Did you say something stupid? Are people rolling their eyes at your status? Or did they just not care enough to read what you wrote? Did they see your name and say “ugh, that girl/guy, she/he is so annoying.”
This is how young people, including myself, feel all the time. When people like our new profile picture or favorite our Tweet, we feel validated. When they don’t, we feel rejected.
People seem to be ashamed when others do not like their posts. I have heard people say they plan to take a photo off of Instagram if it does not get more than 50 “likes.” It is common for teens to delete photos that do not get enough “likes,” according to a 2013 Pew Research Study.
This problem is not isolated to only millennials. Sixty-two percent of adults around the word agreed that “when people react positively to the things I share on social media, I feel better about myself,” according to the Ford 2014 consumer trend report. Similarly, 72 percent of Americans over the age of 34 said they only share things on social media if they think others will like the post. This is compared to 40 percent of Americans 34 and under, according to the Ford 2014 consumer report.
Our social media sites show who we are. They represent our interests, our voice and our personalities. When we change our profile picture or make a new status, we are putting a piece of ourselves online for everyone to see. Doing this is deeply personal because we are sharing to the world who we truly are, even if we may not consciously think of it this way. This puts us in a vulnerable position. This means when people don’t “like” our posts, it feels like people don’t like us.
Yet, a “like” on a social media post is so arbitrary. People just scroll down their feeds, “liking” posts at random. They do not analyze the posts they choose to like. Thus, we should not over-analyze when we do not receive tons of “likes.”
We need to move away from this dangerous idea that the number of “likes” on our social media posts correlates to our worth as a human being. This can have a drastic effect on our self-esteem.
A University of Queensland in Australia study found when people do not “like” someone’s post on Facebook, he or she feels “invisible” and “less important as individuals,” according to The New York Times.
This does not make social media bad. It just means we have to rethink our relationship we these sites. If we do not let “likes” define us, they won’t.
Just because 50 people didn’t “like” your profile picture does not mean that you are not loved and important. You matter, regardless of the “likes” on your posts.