It seems to have been around for several years, but Facebook’s infamous ‘like‘ button has only been launched a little more than two years ago. Since then the verb “to like” has never been the same. What makes the button interesting is the way it is ultimately perceived. Obviously, people give it a variety of meanings and not all of them coincide, depriving the button of a universal significance.
An example is that of reporting catastrophes or negative news as either a personal “what are you doing right now” kind of status or shared news link, and receiving ‘likes‘ afterwards. This means the button is, for someone, a way of saying “I’m here and I’ve read what you’ve written, whether it’s positive or negative” therefore forgetting they “liked it“.
In a way, the button can be seen as a compromise between showing someone’s presence on that platform, but not as much as commenting. Should it be compared to real life situations, the “like” could be compared with an arm wave, or a quick “hi” as you see someone you know walking in the streets, whereas “commenting” on a status is comparable to stopping by and sharing a few words with someone you’ve just bumped into.
Of course, such metaphors are always implemented when one talks about social networking and Facebook in particular. Why? Because Facebook, like no other, has tried and to some extents succeeded in packing up our feelings and the way we see the concrete world into a strong visual impact for the digital dimension. So much of the real world has been put into social networking, that the other way around was bound to take place, though most don’t even notice!
When someone’s out with their friends, why do they feel the urge to “tweet” something instead of sharing whatever happens with their friends? The aforementioned visual impact is a key element. Seeing your thought written gives you importance, sharing it with others, people who are not there with you, makes you feel like your thoughts can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime. Another ego boost.
The ultimate ego boost is the fact that “likes” and comments are another tangible (though it sounds weird, talking about the digital world) souvenir of whatever you’re going through. Think a photograph and multiply its effect by thousand, with audio, video, text and comments completing the memory you want to record.
Because I think ultimately, this is the social networking trick. It’s a big box of memories that makes us feel a little more confident and less lonely. But we should also realise this is an instant feeling and also rather superficial. So, please, tweet less and cherish and celebrate your thoughts by sharing them with yourself and those around you.