Friday, August 15, 2014

On quitting the 'like' button

I came across this article recently, and it struck a chord with me. So I decided to quit the 'like' button myself for a while and see what happened. And not just on Facebook, but on my company's intranet social spaces, too.

This 'like' thing is rather weird isn't it? I bestow upon your post my approval with my mighty 'like' button. Wait. What?

This puts me in mind of earlier conversations I've had about blog comments. Stephen Downes once said in a blog post I now can't find (it was a long time ago), that he didn't think he needed to respond to every comment on his blog posts. That they were perfectly able to stand in their own right and he wasn't arrogant enough to believe they needed validation from him. That has stayed with me (obviously), and when I read the article about the 'like' button, it occurred to me that it was a similar thing. Quite apart from the fact that the bots at Facebook towers are probably building a profile of me based on the things I like.

It can be a bit fraught. If five people comment on a post of yours, and you've 'liked' the first four, do you feel pressured to 'like' the fifth even if you don't like it? If you follow me.

It reminded me a bit of my grandfather. Bear with me. When I was little, my grandfather had this little noise he would make. Somewhere between a grunt and a 'yeah'. It meant "I know that you've spoken. I don't know what you've said, and I'm not really interested. But I acknowledge that you have addressed me." Since I was (you'll be astonished to learn) a chatterbox, I heard that noise a lot. A lot.

Isn't the 'like' button a bit like that?

So this is what I'm doing instead:

I will either engage with something enough to take the time to post a proper comment on it. Or I will let the post/comment stand on its own merit. The 'like' button is off limits for a while. And several of my Facebook friends have decided to join me.

How about you? Shall we turn this into a growing social experiment?

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