Friday, November 28, 2014


On August 16, a post weaved its way through my Facebook feed on the effects of a social experiment one individual undertook. Essentially, she decided not to 'like' things on Facebook and see what happened.

She noticed two big changes that affected how she used Facebook. #1, she got more relevant ads and recommendations in her feed. #2, she was able to connect with people better because she was actually saying something in the comments instead of simply giving "the wordless nod of support in a loud room."

I was intrigued.

I decided to take the same challenge.

Four months later, I have still not 'liked' a single post.

I have no idea how this has affected Facebook's advertising on my feed, because I downloaded a nifty little app called AdBlock, so I don't see much advertising anymore.

From a social perspective, however, it has noticeably altered my Facebook interactions. As mentioned in the original post, the 'like' has become the equivalent of the head nod of agreement we would give someone if we'd heard the comment or story in person. Because a screen separates us physically in our Facebook interactions, the 'like' lets others know we are paying attention. It also lets us know we are getting attention. It surprises me how, despite being more intentional about how I respond to other's posts, I still crave a high number of 'likes' on my own.

Choosing not to 'like' has forced me to sit back and reflect on what I really want to say to a person. Sometimes, I do have something meaningful to say, and I will post a comment. Other times, mind you, the head nod or smile stops at the screen. Sometimes it's a tricky decision--sometimes my reaction to someone's post really is just an enthusiastic head nod of, "nice!" So, I have to consider, if I've refused to just 'like' the post, is it worth creating a comment for one word? And if I choose not to comment, then how will she know I enjoyed what she shared?

But why do we need to know? I think this is the overarching question. Why do I still need to know how many likes (and sometimes by whom) my posts receive? And how come I need to make my awareness or approval of a post known to the one who posted it?

If I was interacting with someone in person, not responding to something they said or presented would be socially offensive. If we like what others say or do, we tell them, we smile, we nod, we have an interested look in our eyes. If we don't like what they're doing, we make a statement, we frown, we roll our eyes, we raise an eyebrow. We respond somehow.

So is that all that's going on here?

Is my need to know and be known just the tension that comes from living on one side of the screen?

Or is it more than that?

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Well thought out -- and expressed. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your mom. :-)