Hiding Likes and Selective Listening

If you have a smartphone, and you’re a Millennial like me, chances are that you have an account on Instagram.  The photo/video sharing app has millions upon millions of users, and they’ve recently dropped some BIG news:

They’re going to start hiding likes and views on posts.

You will still be able to see how many likes/views your own posts get, but you will not be able to see how many other people have.  Instagram has said this is an effort to de-pressurize the platform for people and make it less competitive.

Over the last few years, the surge of Instagram influencers has been unreal.  So much so that the amount of likes someone gets on their posts compared to their peers can have real negative effects on their mental well being.

The Instagram platform right now, whether it wants to or not, encourages a sense of competition.  It’s a competition to see who can get the most likes, who has the best life, who appears to be the most successful.

By eliminating the likes from the platform, it erases at least a few aspects of that competition.  It allows for the user to focus on photos/videos THEY find cool, important, or funny and less on photos/videos they think OTHERS will like.

The term “keeping up with the Joneses” is a common phrase in finance.  For a lot of people, it’s not about how much money they have, it’s about how much money they have relative to their peers.

Like Instagram, it’d be great if we could hide that sense of competition from the world of personal finance.  If we didn’t have to see that new car in our neighbor’s driveway, or see the big new addition getting put on their house, it would make enjoying what we have easier.

Unlike Instagram, we can’t really “hide” those things in real life.  We can’t hide those conversations we have with our peers or hide what we see with our own eyes.

I’m in the middle of reading “Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection” by Sharon Salzberg, and one of the passages in the book talks about media, social media, and how it makes us feel.

The passage reads:

“Have you ever wakened in the morning feeling contented and quiet, and then, within fifteen minutes of checking your phone, felt out of sorts and jealous?  Longing for something more?”

I don’t know about you, but this has happened to me quite a bit and is part of the reason why I don’t immediately look at my phone when I wake up.

The passage goes on to say:

“Regardless of the source of these messages, we can become more aware of them.  We can see which messages we’ve adopted as our own beliefs and learn instead to hold them more loosely; in time, we can even replace them with an inquiring mind, an open heart, an enhanced sense of vitality.  We may not be able to make the messages disappear, but we can question them.”

That last sentence is the key.  We might not be able to physically un-see or un-hear the accomplishments and lifestyles of those around us, but we can mentally choose to listen to them and act on them.

My mother always told me there is a big difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’.  According to her, I sometimes suffer from “selective listening” – particularly when she would be telling me about something I didn’t want to do (sorry, Mom!)

In this case, though, selective listening can be a good thing.  While you can’t physically un-hear something, you can choose to listen to it or not.  You can choose to listen to the talking heads on the news telling you how much more money you should have.  You can choose to listen to your neighbor when they tell you about how great their portfolio is doing.  You can choose to listen to yourself, and ONLY yourself, when it comes deciding what is right for you and your money.

While we might not be able to physically “hide the likes” like Instagram, we can be selective as to which messages we allow into our own thoughts and beliefs.

I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I recommend giving it a try.  You might find that you’ve actually been happy with what you already had all along.

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