The Dangers of Chasing Likes

Why obsessing over ‘likes’ can have a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing… 

Social media is someplace we all spend a lot of time and while it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, we all know there are many downsides to being online. One of these is the seemingly harmless ‘like’ or ‘heart’ button and how it affects our online and IRL selves.  

Why Do We Crave Likes? 

Getting lots of likes or hearts on our comments, posts and images gives us a rush. It’s a digital stamp of approval – a positive sign that those around us enjoy, appreciate, admire and/or support our POV or how we present ourselves to the world. When we get a like, we get a surge of adrenaline and a juicy drip of that feel-good dopamine hormone. The more likes you get, the better you feel. And that’s why it’s so darn addictive. 

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend… 

The danger, of course, is what happens to you when you don’t get any likes, or you receive far less ‘approval’ than you anticipated. All humans seek attention and approval and crave acceptance. When you feel shunned online, that can be a dark and lonely place.  

Be honest: have you ever posted a selfie or carefully crafted post and felt a sinking feeling of rejection when hardly anyone reacted? It’s a similar feeling to tripping over a pavement in public and trying to change a stumble into a jog, hoping fervently that nobody has noticed. You may even have felt so bad about it that you deleted or edited your original post in a bid to erase those sad feelings/pretend it hadn’t happened. You may experience feelings of self-doubt, worthlessness and embarrassment when a post falls flat on its face, and this can dent your self-confidence and make you feel down, upset and hurt. It can make a person more determined to post something that WILL gather lots of attention, as they chase that dopamine high, and this can become a vicious cycle of chasing likes while risking rejection.  

You’re not alone in this, by the way – it’s not at all unusual for young people to feel this way and can create real highs and lows in a person’s mood. Getting lots of likes and comments gives you a high, while the opposite can drive you down into a low. We’re all guilty of allowing ourselves to have our moods dictated based on the behaviour of others and this can leave us feeling vulnerable. Take back control by not posting and YOU get to control your mood. If you’re in need of reaching out or want to connect with someone, why not try text or a Facetime call to chat? 


While all this is happening online, it obviously does affect your real-life. Your self-esteem takes a real bash, and your confidence levels can drop. You may start being overly critical or harsh about your looks or personality and feel down about yourself. This can have a negative effect on your mental health and wellbeing. The question is: how do we reduce our reliance on online approval to make sure we’re protecting and nurturing our self-esteem and mental health? 

Reducing how much time you spend online can definitely help. Try swapping your screen time for these mindfulness activities: 

  • Read a book 
  • Watch a film 
  • Meet up and hang with friends 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Take a relaxing bath 
  • Write in a gratitude journal  

Switch off notification alerts and get in the habit of putting your phone away – you can leave it in another room if that helps. Give your full focus to whatever activity you choose and learn to live in the moment.  

Clearing up your social feeds is another good way to help improve your online experience. Unfollow or unfriend anyone or any account that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. By creating a more positive online world for yourself, you’re less likely to have feelings of self-doubt or challenge your own worth. Or why not take a break from social media completely and see if it makes you feel better?   

Learn To Love YOU, Not Likes 

When you really think about it, what’s in a like, anyway? Think about it: when you hit like on someone else’s post, are you really that invested in it? Do you genuinely care or feel particularly strongly about their shared post/content? Or are you simply scrolling your feeds, while half-watching the TV and ‘throwing’ out likes on family and friends posts merely because it’s expected, or because you want to show some sort of support? What we’re trying to say is this: most of the posts YOU are liking aren’t that deep. There will be the odd post you feel some sort of way about and want to positively engage with but if we’re all completely honest, 9 times out of 10, we’re simply hitting the like or heart button and quickly scrolling on by.  

When you put this into perspective and think about your own ‘liking/hearting’ behaviour, you quickly start to recognise that online approval isn’t always heartfelt or genuine, which greatly reduces the significance of the like button. And that greatly reduces the significance of the impact of not getting lots of likes because what does it matter? Most of them would’ve been a throwaway click of a button anyway. 

Focus instead on self-love and building your own confidence and self-esteem. When you feel comfortable in your own skin and confident in who you are and what you stand for, you no longer feel the overwhelming desire to seek approval from others. It’s not easy to change your view of yourself overnight but with a few small changes, you can practice a positive mindset and start to alter how you see yourself. Discover how to be your own cheerleader here.


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