The Dictatorship of Likes

January 3, 2019

Social media is here to stay. This new form of communication has completely revolutionized the way we understand the world. Although it has significant advantages, they have come at a high price for some people. That’s because some of us are susceptible to being controlled by the dictatorship of “likes”.

Nowadays, we’re obsessed with what others think of us. With the boom of social networks like Instagram and Facebook, we feel that no one loves or appreciates us if we don’t have hundreds of followers. This situation causes significant emotional distress in a large part of the population.

This issue has never been more relevant. In this article, we’re going to discuss the negative effects of this “likes” dictatorship. However, we first have to understand why social media is capable of causing such an intense addiction.

Why is social media so addictive?

Human beings are completely social animals. One of our basic instincts is to seek approval from those around us. According to evolutionary psychology, our ancestors needed to be part of a group to survive. Consequently, those who didn’t pay attention to the effect they had on others died without leaving any descendants.

A woman oppressed by the dictatorship of likes.

As a result, those of us who are alive today descended from the more social members of those early human groups. Our ancestors were the ones who were always aware of what others thought of them. Consequently, we’ve inherited the instinct to try and please others. In the past, that meant having a good relationship with our neighbors or close friends. These days, however, social media has completely changed the paradigm.

These days, there’s a competition to see who the most popular person on Facebook or Instagram is. The dictatorship of likes that these platforms generate makes us obsessed with looking better than everyone else. We compare ourselves with other people constantly and feel terrible if other peoples’ lives seem more attractive than our own.

Some studies show that a significant portion of the young adult population is addicted to social networks. This is due, in part, to the fact that getting a “like” on a photo activates the same reward mechanisms in the brain that activate when you kiss someone you like or get a compliment from another person.

The dictatorship of likes has created new disorders

Due to the similarity between virtual attention and real attention, your brain isn’t always able to differentiate between the two. However, the main problem with an addiction to virtual validation is that everyone seems to be more attractive than you.

The Internet allows us to see the most remarkable people in the world. They might be the most attractive, the most interesting, the most popular, etc. If someone achieves Internet fame, it’s because they’re exceptional in some way.

The problem is that we compare our own Instagram or Facebook profile to that of someone who is way above average. Our lives, by comparison, seem gray and boring. We get the idea that we should be having incredible experiences every other day just to keep up.

That feeling, that fear, is the root of so many addictions and problems. For example, many people suffer from the famous FOMO (fear of missing out). This cognitive distortion leads us to think that everyone’s lives are more interesting than ours.

Others are obsessed with showing the world that they’re the best. As a result, they’re always trying to post pictures of their last trip, an amazing party with friends, or some incredible new hobby. They’re so concerned with posting that they aren’t even able to enjoy what they’re doing.

A sad woman looking at her phone.

How can you overcome this problem?

Unfortunately, many people nowadays are oppressed by this dictatorship of likes. However, this harmful tendency can be reversed. If you want to free yourself from the chains of social media addiction, follow these steps:

  • Accept that other peoples’ lives aren’t really how they appear in social media. Everyone tries to show their best selves on the Internet. However, the vast majority of the time, people are just doing day-to-day, ordinary things.
  • Disconnect from social mediaSpending too much time scrolling through Instagram can make your addiction worse. To combat the effects, set aside some device-free time every day.
  • Look for sources of internal validation. We often look to other people to tell us how great we are because we don’t feel good about ourselves. Improving your self-esteem can help make you impervious to the dictatorship of likes.

The road to freedom from social media is long and challenging. Nevertheless, getting your self-confidence back is one of the best things you can do for yourself.