Why You Should Stop Liking Everyone

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.

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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).

Thanks for looking.

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24 thoughts on “Why You Should Stop Liking Everyone”

  1. Totally with what you are saying about the like button. I would much rather have a comment than a like. Shows engagement from the reader and also would say quite a few of my blogs aren’t appropriate for a like but a comment would show that they have understood the blog or related to it in someone way.

  2. I used to agree with you but then I gave up on comments and actually disabled them from my blog. I enjoy real criticism meaning I want to know why people like or don’t like something but the comments I used to get were just inane. “Nice”, “really good”, or “I really like”. comments do not guarantee or mean dialogue = so I gave up on comments= too many voices and not enough listeners (the problem with the world today).

    1. I think I’m lucky here in that I hardly ever get those kind of comments, people nearly always have something thoughtful and/or personal to share.

      I think the platform does have some impact too, I know in general many social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) seem to have shorter (and often inane) comments, whereas older style social media like blogs and forums tend to have more in depth and thoughtful conversations.

      I do agree about your last line too, for sure. I would add too many voices, with little of interest to say!

  3. I agree. I have been doing this for years. The “like” and “friend” thing seemed smarmy to me from the get go. I used to compliment/comment more but found that almost no one responds, so I seldom do it anymore.

    1. It’s a shame so many people seem caught up in the likes/friends/faves numbers game, rather than looking for some meaningful interaction with a small number of people. This goes for the publishers of the work, as well as those reading/viewing/listening.

      I’ve stopped following blogs in the past because I (and other readers) have gone to the trouble of leaving thoughtful and lengthy comments, and the blogger has not even said “thanks for the comments”, let alone replied in any depth.

      I just think if you have a blog with comments activated, you should be prepared and willing to interact with your readers. It’s a privileged position to be in, that many don’t appreciate.

  4. I like this, so to show I agree I won’t click the little star. 😀
    There are insurance agencies following my blog. I don’t know why. Have I ever mentioned insurance? Only to say “ICBC sucks”.
    So we have two forms of “auto-likers”; the ones hoping for reciprocal traffic on their own site (who sometimes steal your content, especially pictures), and the ones who do it because it is the socially accepted (expected) thing to do. Both are shallow reasons.
    I will click “like” without saying anything when I simply agree with the over-all message in the post, but now you’ve got me rethinking that simplistic strategy as it obviously does not come across as intended.

    1. Marc I agree about those types, yes as I said in my post I have people follow this blog with a profile of a business blog who are obviously trying to get some reciprocal interest, either from me, or other readers here, and are nothing to do with anything I talk about here.

      You are surely one of the most prolific and thoughtful (and appreciated!) commenters on 35hunter, I would be surprised if you even used the like button.

  5. My opinion: I use likes because I have little time to reply to the hundreds of posts I see each day. Usually I have little to say about most posts. If I put a like it is a sincere comment meaning I like this very much. Comments are not necessary if all I want to say is, “This is really nice.” I think it is important for the person posting to see I looked and liked it. Something has to really move me or inspire me to comment before I’ll go beyond a like. That happens about one in a hundred.

    1. In response to that Sherry I would say why not follow fewer sites and engage more deeply with them?

      Years ago I had a few Tumblr blogs and followed at least a hundred other Tumblrs. When you have so many (with each of them posting at least two or three times a day) it’s impossible to read/view every post on a meaningful level, let alone respond. I often found I was scanning through mindlessly, just to clear the unopened new posts back to zero, the equivalent of trying to achieve Inbox Zero with your email account when you received hundreds of new messages a day.

      So I gradually started purging my follow stream, until it became manageable.

      These days, as I’ve said numerous times lately, I follow around 30 blogs, but half of those are either dormant or post very infrequently, I just don’t want to lose them as I sometimes go back and enjoy the archives.

      This said, I’m flattered that this post must have moved/inspired you enough to leave a comment. : )

      On a related topic, I’m sure I read recently that one of the big streaming companies (Netflix I think) are planning to introduce a 1.5x playing speed option, so people can watch shows at 1.5x speed and get through them in two thirds of the time, so a 60 minute episode becomes 40 minutes for example. This is supposedly so people then have more time freed up to watch even more TV. It seems such a ridiculous idea to me, just choose the stuff you like best and give it your full time and attention. At normal speed! Why are we always trying to do more to the detriment of the quality of the experiences??

  6. There is not a firm connection between visual impressions and verbal expression. It takes some practice to write meaningfully and well about photography or any art. I often recommend a book by Terry Barrett, Criticizing Photographs. One helpful thing he recommends is to just start by describing what you see in a photograph. It is interesting that people doing this will often focus on very different aspects of a photograph and will produce very diverse descriptions of the same work. I think he also maintains that saying you like a photograph is likely the least important thing you might say about it. So, I think a worthwhile effort is to bring your own experience to assessing a photograph and share that with the photographer. Both the giver and the receiver of the critique will gain something valuable from the experience.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Mike. I guess with photography blogs there are two aspects, the pictures, and the words. I don’t really often expect comments on specific photos of mine here, and I don’t set posts up that way – here’s a few photos I made, please let me know what you think of them. I see Flickr as far more like that, for me, as each “post” on Flickr is just a single photo, and you don’t need any additional words if you don’t want to, and people will then likely comment based on the image only, and their opinion of it. It’s like a blog for single photo posts.

      With my blog here though, along with many other photography blogs, there’s usually a discussion around something photography related, and it’s this I was talking about more in this post, how people get involved (or not) in that discussion.

      If you write about a topic, then ask a question of the reader at the end, along the lines of “how about you, how do you do this or how does this work out in your photography life?” then to have just a “like” in return seems pointlesss to me. What are you “liking”? The general topic of the post? Why not actually share your thoughts about it with us? That’s more what I was getting at, opposed to anything about photo critiquing.

    1. Thanks Frank, I certainly understand that logic, and when that happens I see it the same way generally. There comes a point when a conversation between two people comes to a natural end, and your “like” here is a sort of full stop for that discussion.

  7. You are right.
    I have a facebook account but I usually tell people I hardly ever check it, and it’s true. It’s just there so my family, friends and relatives can get in touch with me.
    I probably use WhatsApp more than anything else, and there’s no concept of “like” there (it’s like Messenger but you can more easily create groups and share media).
    People know better than to expect likes from me, thought I do use likes in forums – but I think that’s a totally different use case.

    1. What I really dislike about Facebook (amongst many other things) is how most people don’t seem to actually want to be on there, but they join and remain because other people are there. It’s like some mass-hypnosis has taken place and very few seem strong enough to just say they don’t like it, they don’t want to be on it, and leave.

      I use Whats App for messaging amongst family and friends, but increasingly uneasily as it’s now also owned by Facebook, like Instagram too. All the time it’s working and there are no major concerns over security or privacy I’ll continue. Plus I don’t share anything super personal on there, like bank details, private photographs, national secrets etc…

  8. There are blogs whose audience grew to hundreds of followers. In those cases I prefer to add a like (only if I appreciate the work, not as a view confirmation) to not load more work to the author in order to read and reply. In my blog I thought about disabling the likes but as I use that tool with others it would be not fair to deprive others from what I use myself.

    There are authors that doesn’t seek a conversation, as professional poets. They are open to likes at most to allow the expression of their readers; but not to comments because their works of art are in their definite shape, and mostly readers are not professional poets. Besides comments would spoil the appreciation and independent thoughts of new readers with, at best, being exposed a priori to other points of views or, at worst, mundanes “this is nice.”

    Once I followed an author that complained about giving likes to be discovered by others (as clapping your shoulder to be noticed), but that some of those persons would not like him back. He liked one of my posts and I felt aggrieved: he really did not like my post, he was just fishing for readers to like his work. I liked his work in photography but seemed to me that his attitude was that only his posts were worthy of a honest like and the rest only mattered as an audience through dishonest likes. I think likes are driving some persons crazy in seeking not to express themselves but a kind of fame that in internet is a mirage.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Francis. I don’t subscribe to the idea that we should feel sorry for blogs that are “successful” enough to have more comments than they can keep up with. That should be celebrated not bemoaned. It’s like a blog I used to follow where the author started filling their site with ads to pay for the upkeep of the blog and how much time he was putting into it.

      We all have a choice, if it’s taking up too much time, then don’t spend so much time on it. Write fewer posts, write shorter posts, leave fewer comments. There are less well known blogs that have been plugging away for years that would love more comments and views, I don’t have sympathy for those who have plenty then complain about and/or submit their readers to swathes of advertising to try to make a fast buck or two.

      I agree there are some kinds of blogs that don’t require comments, or rather critiques. A bit like I was saying to Mike in reply to his comment, other blogs are more of the form where the author presents a topic for discussion, writes about their personal take or experience, then invites the reader to share theirs. This is generally what I try to do with 35hunter, it’s not a place I ask for critique on my photos, and I think a kind of portfolio blog purely to share your work – be it photos, poetry or anything else – would not use the comments feature in the same way, if at all. Unless the author was saying “here’s my work, please let me know what you think”.

      Oh and absolutely about the internet mirage. It’s not just the internet, there’s a whole vacuous “celebrity” culture built around people who are slightly famous for being slightly famous and nothing else. I really don’t understand any of it.

  9. I have no idea why your particular blog entry came up in my reader but, after resisting the urge to click ‘like’, I just wanted to say that your viewpoint is not only interesting but also reminds my so much of my brother -in-law (who avoids FB and the internet in general to avoid such things). Scary!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, and I’m glad you found the post interesting. I don’t avoid the internet entirely, and it can be an incredible tool for learning and connecting with people. I’m just quite particular about the tools I use to communicate, essentially it’s WordPress, Flickr and email.

      I’ve tried clicking through to your blog but it just times out every time I’m afraid.

  10. It seems that we are of a similar mind Dan, I will not be party to the serial ‘liking’ of posts in the hope that my efforts will be reciprocated.

    I used to post some of my favourite photographs onto a website that would potentially sell my images, which an added feature of having a coloured camera icon in the corner of the image that would change colour with more ‘likes’.

    As with any social media platform, it is a numbers game. a core group of people liking each others photos for the sake of achieving a coveted ‘black’ camera icon, regardless of the quality of image content or composition.

    Surely the ultimate ‘like’ on this particular platform is a sale of the said image?

    I genuinely make the effort to comment on those images that have caught my eye, as you rightfully say, the like button is meaningless, a comment is a sincere reaction.

    Another interesting article Dan, you always offer food for thought.

    1. Thank you Andy.

      Yes any kind of visible measure of popularity online tends to lead to a) people thinking that’s the only measure worth chasing and b) trying to game the system to get a falsely high rating for themselves. A numbers game, like you say.

      I think asking “what is the ultimate “like”?” is a good way of looking at it. For me with a blog post here on 35hunter, the ultimate like is someone reading a post, enjoying it, connecting with it in some way, and responding accordingly. Just like you’ve done. That’s worth more than thousands of “likes”.

      On a photo I post to Flickr, the ultimate “like” is very similar, someone being moved enough by one of my photographs to leave a comment saying as such.

      We’re all very caught up in this internet machine these days – and increasingly so – but we mustn’t lose sight that it’s the sincere human interactions behind the medium that mean most.

      Thanks again!

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