It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the whole concept of “likes” online.
My general view is that if you do indeed genuinely like a blog post or a photograph, in the traditional sense of the word, then leave a comment to let its creator know.
Just clicking “like” takes so little effort it’s virtually meaningless. The currency of likes has such low value for publishers, it isn’t worth having.
Give me one genuine, meaningful comment over 1000 likes any day.
Another problem with likes is how they are used disingenuously as speculative bait for a return like, one of the apparently unwritten codes of social media.
I know from some of the names of followers of this blog (BestKidsToys! and SENIOR ACCREDITED PSYCHOTHERAPIST LONDON UK are two recent examples I deleted) that they only follow or like posts because they hope I will in return, thus boosting the total of likes and followers on their blog.
Which I assume they feel with give them more credibility or cachet in the eyes of those impressed by such things, or perhaps just massage their own ego.
To me this seems a rather ridiculous game.
How would this pan out in the real world?
I don’t actually like you, but I going to say I do, just so you say you like me in return. Then everyone else will think we’re super likeable people and like us too, even though they might not.
We don’t really like each other, and perhaps don’t genuinely like anyone who we say we like, we only like them to get that fake like in return and falsely boost our own perceived popularity.
So everyone likes everyone on the surface, but no-one really knows who they like or who likes them beneath the sham.
What a fraudulent and silly waste of everyone’s time.
After all, we each have limited time and attention, and even if liking a blog post or photo only takes two seconds, this will all add up if you do it repeatedly.
Not only will the raw time spent “liking” accumulate, but the impact of continuously liking things you actually don’t really like much, is subliminally exhausting and skewing your real taste.
Imagine if, in real life, you only liked water and orange juice, and never drank any sugar filled, carbonated drinks (fizzy pop, as we called it back in the day).
But then someone asked you to sample six different fizzy drinks and give a glowing review of each to help sales.
And then you repeated this over and over again, with slightly different, but equally sugary and artificial tasting drinks, and gave them equally enthusiastic yet fictitious reviews.
Would you in time perhaps start to question whether you even did like these drinks?
Would you somehow become so familiar with the taste of the drinks, that on some level you forgot you didn’t like them, along with all the other reasons you don’t drink them?
Back to the online “liking”, maybe after enough repetitions of flippant and thoughtless liking, you might actually start to forget what you really do like, and why you spend time online, even when it’s right there in front of you.
I have an alternative suggestion.
When you find something online that another person has created, and you genuinely enjoy and appreciate it, why not just leave a few words to let them know that?
You know, commit 30 seconds to starting a conversation, human being to human being, rather than dropping yet another easy yet heartless hit and run “like”.
Perhaps the only personal deviation I have from this approach is with Flickr.
I sometimes make a photograph I find and love a “favourite”, which then adds it to my ongoing curated collection of favourite photos.
The difference here, is just that, it’s an ongoing collection that I often revisit for inspiration, a kind of personal bookmarking to gather together photos I love in one convenient place.
Whereas “likes” on a blog post or on social media disappear like leaves dropped in the ever flowing stream, never to be seen again, for all intents and purposes, as soon as your finger leaves the screen or keyboard.
A final word. I have disabled likes on 35hunter, but to my annoyance, I can’t figure out how to disable them when a post is viewed directly in WordPress Reader, so I still seem to gather them. So if you know how to switch the option off in Reader, please share!
How about you? How do you feel about likes? Do you enjoy others “liking” your own blog and photos? Do you like other people’s?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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