Café owner's petition to stop 'damaging mentality' of Instagram likes

Folk café

Ali Barker, owner of the Folk Cafe (pictured on the bottom row fourth from the left), is calling for Instagram to turn off the likes. - Credit: Folk café

The owner of a popular Suffolk café has called on Instagram to "turn off the likes" to stop people feeling like they need to compete with each other on social media. 

Ali Barker, who has owned Folk Café in the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds since December 2019, has started a petition to remove the number of numbers shown on Instagram posts as she believes it is damaging people's mental health.

Rosie Childs and Ali Barker of Folk Cafe

Ali Barker, owner of Folk Café, is calling for Instagram to 'turn off the likes' as she feels it is damaging people's mentality. - Credit: David Garrad

The 'hide number of Instagram likes' function has been trialled and is now successfully being used in a number of other countries, such as Australia, and it has been widely spoken about in the media. 

However, Ali feels more needs to be done, especially in the UK where this function is not available, to stop our younger siblings, friends, colleagues, children and loved ones from liking their own photos or deleting posts because they don't feel worthy.

She feels strongly that displaying the number of likes on photos can be damaging to people's mentality, adding she has a "love hate relationship" with the photo publishing app.

"I have been feeling this way for ages as Instagram is so good for my business and it helps me reach people so easily, but the negatives outweigh the benefits," she explained. 

"People are addicted to this feeling of approval, but it is just a number."

Mark Heath and wife Liz visited the super popular Folk Cafe in Fornham near Bury for a Thursday lunc

Folk Café in Fornham near Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

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The 30-year-old, who has younger siblings, said it worries her that they feel pressured to have a successful social media account, which depends on the number of followers and likes they have. 

She said: "I love seeing everyone's posts but it would be cool to have an equal playing ground. I feel like some accounts are instantly dismissed because of the number of likes or followers they have.

"It has almost become normal for people to desire a lifestyle where you don't do much but you have nice things because of your Instagram following. 

"This is a rogue sense of view of life, yet it is seen as a reality."

Ali uses the social media platform to help expand her business reach, but has come off of all sites personally as she feels it is too damaging.

She said it feels wrong that at a time when equality has never been more spoken about, we are all addicted to an app that compares each other. 

She feels lucky to have left school at a time when Bebo was the main social media site, as she fears the numbers of young people who commit suicide due to social media is rising. 

She is aiming to spark a conversation about this "vanity metrics" to try and create a nicer space for people online.

Ali's petition has already reached more than 180 signatures and she is hoping it will gain momentum.

She hopes that within a year the number of signatures will hold some weight and she will be able to have her petition looked at by somebody who has the power to make a difference on UK platforms. 

She understands this is a big leap, but it feels good to speak out about what she believes in. 

You can sign Ali's petition and read more about it here. 

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