LikeFree

Instagram is a photo sharing app. When I use Instagram, I should see photos and videos from people around the world.

If Instagram is a photo sharing app, why do some people treat it as a “Self-esteem” machine?

Some people will post and literally count up the likes they receive on their content…because, the likes received is the most objective measure of the quality of the experiences that led to the creation of the photo. Yes, of course. How could I be so silly to have forgotten this!

Why should people base their self-esteems and self-perspectives on stable artifacts, such as relationships, memories, values, accomplishments…etc when they could instead invest in the single second of drunk pleasure acquired from the questionably substantial and partially useless “approval” of others?

“Ay Vivek, don’t judge. Live and let live 😡.”

I agree on not interfering in how people want to live their lives, but to me, I see the situation described as a call to action — those who can see beyond the feedback of outsiders in the process of evaluating him/herselves must enable others to this more concrete, happier, and greater perspective: 
The perspective of self-love before any love, intrinsic value and worth, forgiving the shortcomings of our entities and celebrating without restraint how far we all have come on our individual journeys and how much more we have left to accomplish, and to not compare ourselves to others when evaluating the worth of our lives and stories.

To enable as many people as possible to this perspective is my purpose. LikeFree is one step in that process.

— — —

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on my projects and ideas during the school year due to academics…until Thanksgiving break.

This was the only free time I was going to get as final exams would begin soon and I wanted to make the most of it. One idea I had been thinking about for a while is a tool that can disable the like bar on the mobile Instagram app so I can focus solely on the content I see and not have my opinions of said content influenced by the like count in any way.

Even though I practiced the habit of keeping the like bar out of my sight, there were other people who didn’t do this and more people who have invested some part of their emotional state to the like bar. I needed to release a tool that disable the like bar and enables others to dismiss the false relationship between a content’s value and the amount of likes it receives.

After investigating the source code publicly available for Instagram (available on their Github), I realized that the code available had nothing to do with the structure and design of the true Instagram mobile app — rather, what was available were some of the technologies Instagram is powered by, distributed for others to benefit from within their own projects.
I had no use for anything here.

Disgruntled, it seemed that there was nothing I can do for the mobile app…but, there was something else. Something else I could do more with.

— — —

Hi, I’m Vivek Bhookya. I know nothing about web development. 
Ok, cool, let’s build a Chrome extension.

As you all know, step one is finding the right tutorial name.

“Hide my likes.” Hmmm… 
“IGBuddy.” Not quite… 
“LikeToggle?” ……..

LikeFree.

Nice. Cute. “Hey, have you downloaded this radical Chrome extension called ‘LikeFree’?” WOW, sounds greeeeeeat in conversation 😍 !

Phew! Now, onto finding a tutorial to figure out the development process.

There were no right tutorials regarding an out-of-the-box setup.

Ok, cool. No problem. I’m sure it’s not too hard.

— — —

It was INCREDIBLY hard for me. Most of my projects have taken ~7–10 hours total…
LikeFree took the full length of thirty hours, completely beyond of anything I was used to.

Figuring out what an extension is and how it behaves wasn’t too terrible. The difficulty rose in figuring out the most ideal process in disabling likes on the web version of Instagram and converting that to code.

The majority of my time was spent learning about Javascript, JQuery, and how websites are usually structured. And also starting over and over.

My first approach I realized was too out of scope for what I knew at the time, what I could learn within break, and my ability in finding the appropriate resources to learn from was also partially fruitless. I knew my idea wasn’t impossible, and so I kept going.

I learned more about website structure in my next attempt, but nothing I could use. 
More hours had passed and I was still at square one in a sense. My will to continue was being tested beyond belief.

Whenever I felt like giving up, I imagined how I would feel if I did finish my project. That vision never failed to give me the strength to continue working, working late into the night, working til I was literally sweating from having focused for so long. 
I wanted to finish as soon as possible because I didn’t want anyone else to publish my idea before I could, but mainly because I had this feeling that if I didn’t build this tool, nobody else will, and thus my desire for more love to be shared in this world would stay a desire.

I had to build LikeFree. I had to publish it. There must be more love in the world.

Having a friend who is far more experienced in a subject that you are still a student of is a blessing. When I ran into absolute roadblocks, a dear friend of mine would help me see another path to keep moving forward. He is responsible for the success of this project as much as I am. I sincerely believe that.

— — —

Many hours had passed and I was ready to give up. However, the moment I began telling my friend I would let him take over this project and finish it because I couldn’t, I had an idea. 
In our weakest moments we can find the greatest of strengths. Blessed.

I rewrote some code and tried a different approach — funnily, this approach was almost identical to my very first attempt at LikeFree.

I juggled a few lines of code, went to the Instagram website, and pressed on the little heart sitting in the top right corner of my browser.

Poof.

Instagram was freed of likes.

— — —

I added support for Facebook as well — another service where I really felt a presence from community reactions. Unwanted presence.

One idea, a vision, thirty hours, lots of sweat, no giving up, some screenshots, my girlfriend helping me write a lovely description for the Chrome Web Store, and tidying up later,

LikeFree. A contribution to the world.

Love yourself. I love you too.
Vivek

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Link to LikeFree. If you like it, please share with your loved ones :)

Introduction to Chrome extensions

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