Do you like this?
James likes this
Tina likes this
Paul likes this
Flo likes this
I know this is going to come off as me sounding like a grouch but I really have a hatred for the ‘like’ button that has become a huge part of Facebook since it was introduced about five years ago. Of course I say this as a hypocrite. It seems that every social media website has it’s own equivalent of the like button. Twitter has it’s favourite/reblog button, reddit/imgur has upvotes, Pinterest has…Pinterest button I think. Google + has the dusty +1 button. I’m not above using some of these equivalents (Twitter and imgur in case you were wondering). But the Like button on Facebook just irks me greatly. I believe it is because Facebook, more than the other examples, is intended as a tool for social communication through the use of words. Yes Twitter is all about words but with just 140 characters, it is a bit limited. Facebook on the other hand is all about conversing with your friends, whether that be via wall posts, Facebook messages or chats in groups and events.
So it annoys me when somebody’s contribution to a discussion is ‘Billy Bob likes this’. For me, this gesture of liking something holds no value and very little purpose. If I ever post “I’m going to be running in a 10K marathon next week.” as a status (haha, not very likely!) then I expect somebody’s contribution to that being a message which reads “Good luck” or “Try not to die :P”. When I see that somebody has simply liked the status and moved on, it comes off as lazy and slightly insulting. It says to me that you want to be seen as somebody who cares about the content of the status update when in actual fact you were too lazy to post something more personal with more thought into it and instead went the route of using one joule of energy to click the like button. You have used my status as a tool for making you look like you give a damn to the rest of your friends.
On top of that, there appear to be some people on Facebook who I like to call ‘Serial Likers’. (swap the l and k of ‘likers’ around and what do you get? See, I’m clever sometimes!) As the name implies, it’s people who go around liking everything they can. Every little status update, every little comment, every little bit of visual media that is fed through their News Feed every day. That liberal use of the like button does nothing but devalue the gesture. Recently I had a serial liker going through a lot of stuff that I participated in, liking everything that person can. It even spread through to other social network sites. It got to the point where it was just downright annoying and every time I got a notification that somebody had liked one of my posts, I knew straight away it would be that person and nine times out of ten, I was completely right.
Finally another reason for my dislike of the like button (hurhur) revolves mostly around it’s equivalent on Tumblr, the reblog button. But this can apply to Facebook too. The ease of use that the Like/Reblog button has means that it encourages people to like perhaps too much. Perhaps prematurely. You may have seen various posts on Facebook/Tumblr relating to Vaccinations for children and how it causes an increase in autism. The article goes on to encourage women not to let their kids be vaccinated. The problem with the like button is that it’s too easy for average users to read these articles, become convinced by their rhetoric and then spend that single joule of energy to reblog or like it, therefore passing it on to their followers/friends. That average user hasn’t taken the time to double check the ‘facts’ presented within or doing any further reading on the subject. It’s much easier to reblog or like. That vaccination story is bullcrap but people who haven’t done the research continue to share it across social networks and therefore it still pops up in my feed from time to time. Sometimes sharing these articles are done with good intentions and for certain subjects, I applaud those people. But it’s so easy to share wrong information that those people sharing it get caught out and then labeled with the tag Social Justice Warrior (SJW) and the negative connotations that come with it.
In short, the prevalence of the like button and it’s equivalents, in my opinion, is making people lazier and not only that but I feel it’s stifling people’s opinions and their creativity. People are no longer expressing themselves through witty dialogue (or banter if you prefer). And the internet is much worse for it.
Of course the argument against that is that when you let people express themselves with words, you get stuff like the Youtube comments section. But let’s try and sweep that cesspool under the rug. Yes?