I like you and you like me – On Facebook’s most important tool

I remember my 16-year-old son posting his new profile photo and saying: “My goal is to get at least 20 likes”. Well, I told him that I liked his photo but it apparently didn’t count…
 
I’ve been using Facebook for some time now but I must admit I still don’t know how it works. I can upload an image, post a comment or change my profile photo, but I’m still somewhat puzzled by Facebook’s inherent complexity. What I’m most fascinated about at the moment is the like button. I can’t stop constantly analyzing what’s behind this tiny icon. Not because I want to invent a super theory on how to get more likes on Facebook; what intrigues me is the moment of decision to like something or ignore it, and all the emotions you can express with just one click.  

I always wonder whether other people feel the same way as I do (my husband reassures me that they don’t). For example, I’d like to look inside the human brain to scrutinize the complex and complicated process of deciding whether they’ll hit the like button or not. Although it’s just a matter of seconds, or even less, an amazing lot of brain processes must be going on inside the person’s head. Are they only interested in the post itself or do they have the person who posted it in mind? In other words, is it only about content or is it personal? And what about their own personality? Do they need some time to decide if they want to share this bit with others or do they just act spontaneously? Or are they too shy to expose their emotions at all?

The like button apparently has many functions and some of them are more superficial than others, but that’s ok: by liking something you can express that you’ve just smiled, laughed, or cried; you can express your surprise, shock or amazement. But I’ve also used it for other reasons; by liking someone’s post I just quickly want to say: “Hello, I’m here. We haven’t been in touch for ages but I know you are there.” Or I simply want to show that I like the person or appreciate what he or she does in general. I can also express that I agree with what the person claims and by agreeing I actually expose my own opinion. Finally, I’ve always kind of felt that by clicking the like option you make an imaginary full stop: I’ve read your post. Thanks. Full stop.  

The number of likes one receives certainly matters because Facebook is not just about interaction, relationships and communication; it’s also about competition. But the number of likes one gives away matters as well because someone who likes everything may be ‘valued’ less by others than someone who uses the tool carefully. On the other hand, I feel that liking on Facebook is like smiling at somebody or patting them on the back. And does it cost you anything to smile at someone? Can you waste smiles and supportive pats on the back? Well, the fact is that some people are always smiley and some don’t smile at all. We are human and everyone is different. So let’s go to Facebook and enjoy the diversity.  

PS: I hope you will like my post 🙂

 
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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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8 Responses to I like you and you like me – On Facebook’s most important tool

  1. Theodora Pap says:

    You analyze it too much!!! Just enjoy!!!
    and if you don't enjoy something, there's always the delete button!!!!!

    Like

  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Thanks for reading and for your comment, Theodora. But even if you hit the delete button, it is a message…. But you are right… let's stop analyzing and start enjoying what we've got 🙂

    Like

  3. Maria Bossa says:

    Dear Hana
    Thanks a lot for your reflection. When I hit the “Like” button is because I really like the post, the pic or the comment. Sometimes I do share what I like as it deserves to be read or seen by others so it has more “Likes”. I agree with you when you say that “liking something” is a way of saying “Hei, I'm or I was here”.
    Let's hope the “like” button remains there for a long time!
    Smiles from Argentina, Maria 🙂

    Like

  4. Dear Hana:
    I can see what you try to express. Personally, I´ve been trying to not get into FB for some time, but my friends in the US kind of forced me to! Can you believe that!. Nobody wants emails anymore, people share their status on Fb, what they are doing, where they are, etc. Honestly, I don´t agree with my friends because I do not like to be exposed in that way but to tell you the truth, I love seeing my friends´children grow and know how all of them are. Yesterday I posted my son´s photo for the first time. I don´t do that much… Why? Because I think I can send photos, etc. in a private message but I was so proud I couldn´t resist!! If I hit like it is because I mean it and like Maria said in her comment above, sometimes you hit like to show the other you care, or tell that person I am here or I was here. It is kind of complex to explain here. I have some other ideas to share but I will put you to sleep, dear Hana! Enjoy and like if you do and if you don´t, skip and keep having fun. You are in this great group, we are wonderful so …don´t worry, be happy! 🙂

    Like

  5. Hana Tichá says:

    Hi Maria. Yes, the like button is a quick way of expressing one's positive feelings and that's why I like it. And thanks for telling me that you are there by replying to my post. It's great that we all keep connecting. 🙂

    Like

  6. Hana Tichá says:

    Thanks for your positive energy, Fabiana. Yes, people are often forced to use social media for various reasons; I also tried to resist at first but I think if you know how to orient yourself to this environment, it can be fun and useful for your professional development. But if you aren't careful, it can be destructive. That's why I keep analyzing all the pros and cons – to feel safe.

    Like

  7. Hi Hana,

    Great reflections. I think people do think like you so your hubby might be wrong there. LOL! One of my favorite blogs that finished was a Living Facebook experiment by John Spencer. I keep asking him to make it a book. You have to start at the beginning, since it's a blog http://livingfacebook.wordpress.com/ so here's the 1st post, http://livingfacebook.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/4/ Apparently, if you scroll all the way down on the front page, though, you can just read up from there!

    Like

  8. Hana Tichá says:

    Thanks for your tip, Shelly. And I'll tell my hubby …. hehe

    Like

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