I saw an interview with the guy who, as a software programmer at Facebook, co-created the “like” button. While stopping short of expressing regret, Justin Rosenstein says the invention has had “unintended, negative consequences.” I couldn’t agree more.
We like “likes.” The little red notifications heighten our self-worth. They tell us someone’s listening. They tell us we matter. Studies suggest social media notifications activate the pleasure centers of the brain, much like sex and food. Depending on how healthy you are as a person, it’s easy to become addicts of approval.
But what happens when you don’t get the affirmation you seek? What happens if you’re (gulp) virtually ignored?
Remember Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck” routine? If you’re an adult and you feel down because you only have six likes on your new selfie…you might be “constant checker.” Hmmmm, not nearly as funny.
I was having lunch with a guy recently who asked me how many people read my blog. I replied, “I don’t know. A lot.” He said, “Oh, I can help with that,” and he started showing me programs that measure clicks and reads. I interrupted him and said, “Despite my curiosity, I really don’t want to know.” He looked puzzled. I explained, “You see, if I knew exactly how many people read my blog and which ones they respond to most, it would change what I write about and how I write about it. I would rather just write truths.”
Social media is cool. It has allowed me to connected and reconnect with people from all over the world. I enjoy both the serious and the silly. It absolutely has its place. My advice is to be careful how high it climbs on your priority list, and take inventory of what falls below it. It may be something really important – really healthy.
Go ahead and like “likes.” Just don’t love them.
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