What’s not to like about the like button

20130916-083106.jpgLast week Kristin and I were discussing blog stats for Tourniquet. I’m not really a stats person, the information is too broad and impersonal in most cases for me. This is a striking difference in Kristin and I’s personalities, because she’s fantastic with managing stats. I pay attention to the stats enough to get a vague understanding of all the things you’re supposed to understand when looking at statistics, Kristin, on the other hand, is driven to understand in great detail the ebb and flow of traffic, where it comes from, what produces more of it, etc.

In our conversation we got to talking about how many times something or other had been ‘liked’ and people ‘liking’ it on facebook versus ‘liking’ it on our site. In all that talk about ‘liking’ I told Kristin how much I don’t like the like button sometimes. To me it feels like pseudo communication, you push the like button to communicate a vague sense of appreciation or approval of what a person is saying or posting, but there’s no real commitment there because there are no words there to indicate whether you like because you sympathize, agree, approve of their passion whether or not you approve of their message.

Then there are those comments that you do get time to time in addition to a ‘like’ or without one that go something like, “I wish I could super like this!” or “When are they going to invent a ‘dislike’ button?” And I want to shout, “USE YOUR WORDS!”

Don’t get me wrong, I was up on my proverbial soap box about ‘liking’ and fully admitting that I am just as guilty of employing the use of the like button as the next person. It’s convenient when I’m on a break skimming my Facebook news feed to blanket like status updates and things that have been shared. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it says, “Hey, I see you said that.” And I’m for letting the people in my sphere know they are seen even when they’re just broadcasting what they had for lunch that day.

The thing is, as I thought about it then and ever since that conversation a week ago today, what I’ve realized is, I don’t want the ‘like’ button to be my default response. I crave communication and understanding of how and what people think, so I really appreciate it when people take the time to leave comments on my updates and blog posts. I have to assume that if ‘likes’ make other people feel good, that actual communication with them and expression of how whatever they’ve said has impacted me will make them feel better.

This is especially true in a world where a dislike button has NOT been created. Don’t you think that’s just a little funny? Our social media outlets are set up so that when we agree or approve we have the “convenience” of expressing it quickly and vaguely, but we read something we don’t agree with or approve of and we want to express ourselves we’re forced into confrontation. Therefore, the majority of the time when we’re actually communicating with words, we’re communicating something negative or upsetting. That’s just sad.

I gave myself a little challenge after that conversation with my sister in order to “be the change I wish to see in the world” (ha) and I’ve spent the past week taking as many opportunities  to comment and leave words in place of or in addition to ‘liking’ what people have to say. I’ll be honest and say it’s not always been easy. Getting out of like-brain is a little difficult at first, which just made me all the more determined because  it indicated just how deeply the habit was rooted.

Yes, commenting has been more time consuming.
Yes, there were times when I had to sit and think for a minute about what exactly I wanted to say, or why I actually liked something or even if I actually liked it.

At first it felt as though there was gravitational pull to the like button, but more quickly than I could have hoped for that feeling started to fade and I found myself reaching for the comment link automatically. I also found that I was paying attention to things differently, my brain was looking for things in my friends words to respond to. It’s great!

The real reward, however, came late last night when after leaving a very simple one word comment on something one of the teenage girls I work with had written, she commented back saying, “I really appreciate your participation in my status updates lately!”

We haven’t had any deep conversations.
We haven’t even had long conversations.

All I did was replace my ‘likes’ with words and it mattered. It was noticeable and appreciated, because real communication is important.

I’m not suggesting we all abandon the ‘like’ button completely, even though it would be nice, I know it will never happen. What I suggest is more awareness for the words we leave behind us and not let them be mostly negative. We have many wonderful words in our vocabulary to communicate love, approval, agreement, encouragement and comfort, to name just a few, let’s not limit ourselves to ‘liking’ things and take the time to communicate what we really feel.

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2 thoughts on “What’s not to like about the like button

  1. batwood says:

    I thought about just liking this post to be ironic, but you make such valid points I felt coerced into commenting! Seriously, good points here.

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