It’s morning time. You make a coffee, open your browser and type:
The required effort is minimal. And Facebook is already loaded before you know if you’re still asleep or awake.
Photos of other people’s babies snap you into awareness. You want to go back to sleep. Wait, that means you must be awake!
You click yourself through the list called “News Feed” which reads like a neverending scroll of irrelevancy.
Clicking “like” as you go along. Reading some statuses and comments and feeling ashamed for the people who wrote them. Smiling, in spite of yourself.
Scrolling down. Clicking “like”.
And “like”… and …
After two hours you can’t remember a thing.
Lobotomy, brought to you by Your Social Network
A few weeks ago, I wrote: “The Facebook experience doesn’t encourage creating new stuff. It encourages commenting and liking.” because the longer you stay on their site the higher the potential ad-revenues.
But let’s not be unfair to Facebook. It’s easy to blame the big fish. This could happen on Twitter, too. Stumbleupon. Google+. Has it ever happened to you that you liked, retweeted, +1ed (ugliest ‘verb’, ever), stumbled something before you completely read an article or watched a video till the end?
It’s a bad habit, mkay.
We’re turning into reactive automatons.
Before we look at a video or an article we check how many likes or retweets it has. There is this conception that the Internet is a democratic medium. On the other hand, the gap between popularity and obscurity is immense.
If your post has no likes, people might not even bother to read it.
If it has thousands of likes, already, people will hit like before even reading it.
The premature liker is not just sending false messages to other readers (“How can you recommend something that you haven’t even seen?”), you’re also inflating the egos of the content-creators.
Writing For ‘Likes’ Is Like Working For Bankruptcy
I’ve seen rock stars agonize over the fact that another artist has far more Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers than they do. (source)
We content-creators are hungry for attention. Might just as well tell you the truth.
We sit in our caves dredging out blogpost after blogpost and unleashing them into the world, waiting for… something.
We need those things to get likes!
And while, sure, for those doing it for a living, we need traffic to continue the survival of our species but it goes far beyond that:
Content-creators are measuring their value by the like.
When I started publishing stuff online more than 10 years ago there weren’t any fancy stats. Building crude webpages and slapping on a visitor-counter was as much metrics as you’d get without being the CIA.
Today, it’s all about “social proof”.
But what does it prove if you get ten thousand likes for uploading a video of a kitten landing *flop* on her belly?
That you’re the next Fellini? (fe-lin-i…lol)
That cats don’t always land on their feet?
Limiting the Likes, Rethinking the Retweets
As I suggested here, we should maybe think thrice before posting a status-update, asking: “Why I am doing this?”
“What am I actually intending with this?”
But the same is true before hitting like. Have I even read the thing? Do I care? Why am I drawing to attention to it, then? Am I trying to lubricate the social plumbing as in: “I liky you, you liky me”?
And it’s also true for content-creators who should ask themselves if they’re writing what they really think or if they limit, cut, censor and lie for a fistful of likes.
Those currencies are evanescent.
Remember Myspace comments?