As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I find myself clicking the “Like” button a lot. Here’s a photo of my friend’s vacation (Like). Another friend’s family portrait (Like). Graduations. Birthdays. Block parties. (Like) (Like) (Like) Sometimes it gets tedious, all this “liking.”
But I’m afraid to stop. What if I “like” one friend’s post but not another’s? Will the other friend be insulted? It begs the question: What, exactly, do we get from all these “likes” on our Facebook posts? I think the answer is: validation. When I post something, I am gratified to see the number of “likes” the post gets. It makes me feel noticed, appreciated in some way. And so I want to extend that same courtesy to my friends who have taken the trouble to “like” my stuff.
The need to be liked seems universal. When Sally Field won an Oscar for her role in the movie Places in the Heart, her famous response was, “You like me. You really like me!” Not, say, I appreciate being recognized for my talent, hard work, etc. Just the fact of being liked seemed to be the most important aspect of her acknowledgment.
When we were young children, the worst taunt you could throw at another child was, “I don’t like you.” It was a guaranteed ego-crusher. My own kids would often hurl that insult at me when they were little. Sometimes I would revert to a preschool mentality and toss back, “I don’t like you either.”
Although Facebook “likes” may seem superficial, I enjoy giving and receiving them. Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch with people from various parts of my life: family, friends, former co-workers and students. I actually learn a lot about these friends’ beliefs and opinions from what they post, more perhaps than I would in casual conversation in the limited time I might have with each one. However small and fleeting, there is a connection on Facebook that I truly appreciate having with people in my life. That is definitely something to “Like.”