Social media can be super tricky. Obviously, there are a lot of great things about it. It's great to connect or reconnect with your friends from back in the day and keep tabs on what everyone is doing these days. It's a great place to air your grievances, share your opinions, and (of course) read super cool articles.

But it also constantly feels like a game. A game that you could be playing better. Maybe you've convinced yourself that you don't care that much about how your posts perform on Facebook and Instagram. But come on. You do.

You might spend a lot of time crafting your Instagram persona. A lot of planning goes into each post.

You've got the perfect outfit, the perfect filter, the perfect caption complete with relevant hashtags — the whole package. Surely, you're about to become an Instagram star.

After putting together the best possible post, you put that puppy on Instagram and wait for the likes to roll in.

But then...they don't. You did everything right, but you're just not getting the likes you so clearly deserve.

Something is going on, here. It has to be.

Or maybe the problem is with you. You decide to redouble your efforts and really get your social media game on lock.

You take a picture of every single meal you eat. You post #ootd's and #mcm's and #tbt's like it's nobody's business.

You deserve those likes, dang it, and you're gonna get them. Before you know it...

via: Shutterstock

You've become a slave to your phone. You used to check Instagram two or three times a day. Now, it's two or three times an hour. As it turns out, there may be a reason why you didn't get those likes. And it's not because there was anything wrong with your post...

According to a report from the Globe and Mail, Instagram may actually be purposely withholding likes from people who don't participate as much on the social media platform.

In other words, your friends' likes on your photo may simply not be showing up for you. When you see a post you've created fail to rack up the points, you feel like you've done something wrong. In order to fix it, you start posting more often. According to the report, that's when Instagram finally gives you your likes.

Why does this work? It's all simply psychology.

The notifications we receive from social media networks provide us with a little hit of dopamine — the feel-good chemical. The most effective way to condition someone is to reward their behavior — but not every time. Back in the 1950s, psychologist B.F. Skinner found that if he rewarded lab mice with a treat only sometimes after they pushed a lever, they would quickly start to push the lever compulsively and constantly. That's exactly why you keep looking at your phone throughout the day — because every once in awhile, there's a fancy little notification sitting there for you as your reward. And thus, you're totally hooked.

After Globe and Mail shared their report, Mike Krieger, the CTO of Instagram denied that the platform does anything of the sort.

When asked to clarify what he meant, he continued:
According to Krieger, there is no actual withholding of likes. But he then went on to say that the likes also aren't necessarily instantaneous. Which kind of seems like withholding to me. What's the difference, there?

Hm. Honestly, that response kind of makes me even more suspicious.

What do you think? Do you feel like Instagram might be gaming the system to get you (even more) addicted to the app? And if so, is it totally working, or are you immune to their psychological superpowers?