Like: /līk/ [from: Merriam Webster 2Like]
Verb: 1. find agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory. 2. wish for; want.
Noun: like; plural noun: likes 1. the things one likes or prefers.
On the 9th of February 2009 our ability to communicate our feelings was reduced to one word, one simple click of an icon that said everything we wanted to say but didn’t know how or can’t be bothered taking the time to write; Facebook introduced the “like” button [source]. Before the 9th if we wanted to like a photo or comment we had to write “I like what you said” or “I like your photo” or even something more personalized with emotions.
With the invent of email it was said we lost our ability to sit down and hand write a letter, our penmanship has suffered because of this, I know mine has. What is being lost now that we just click the like icon and move to the next post, the next news article, the next like button? I feel we have lost our ability to truly share our emotion and feeling towards things. We now say “I like the photo of your new car”, “I like the photo of your kid”, and “I like that your mom has cancer” by clicking the button instead of “Congratulations on the new car”, “Your kid is really cute, amazing something so cute came from you!”, and “Sorry to hear about your mother, our thoughts and prayers are with you”. They have all been reduced to “click and go” but each click means something different. Can it be understood what we mean by clicking the like? I believe most of the time it can be but do we know what we mean or even what we are communicating to the friend when we click like?
I by no means am immune to this cultural change. I get up in the morning to see what my 650+ friends have done over the night and just click like to a bunch of things grab a cup of coffee and I’m off with my day. The like cultural change has become so much of my personal life that when I post a new comment, share a photo, or a news article I’m constantly refreshing my notifications to see if anyone clicked like, I enjoy the comments but there is so much more gratification when the like number climbs higher and higher. For me if I average 5% of my friends that like what I do on Facebook and I feel good about that, but when I get up to 10%+ I’m excited by it and my wife gets tired of me talking about all the likes I got. Then I start thinking about the emotional disconnect of the like and wonder “why don’t I have a higher interaction considering the lack of effort it takes”. Is it because of the disconnect that 90-95% of my friends don’t even bother clicking? Or have I hit on another issue that might be even bigger; that maybe 90-95% of my Facebook “friends” really aren’t my friends but rather just acquaintances [that might be a blog for a new day]?!?!
I have a few friends that share a Facebook page with their spouse and when I see they have liked a post I often don’t know which one has done this. One day I was talking to one of these friends about a post I made and asking him if it was him or his wife that liked my post and if he had seen it. He told me that anytime it is just a like that means it was his wife when there is a comment that his him. He feels if he wants to like a photo or a post a comment can better express that feeling than clicking a button.
I think I could do the same as my friend and comment and not just click the like. Will I make this change in how I personally interacted with friends on Facebook— I don’t know, it has become a habit, lifestyle, and just easier to click the button. It will definitely take a conscious effort to and more time in my day to comment and not just “click and go”, so no promises world that I will change my habits!
photo credit: Likevolution