Honesty in Social Media: What’s the Point of a Like Anyway?
By: Emily Vanderbeek

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The thought of writing this article scared me. “What if I offend people?” and “Will people stop liking me?” were my two immediate thoughts.

 

Then I realized that I was playing into the very thing I’m about to write about, thus proving the value of a topic worth addressing.

 

Lately the internet’s been buzzing about how social media has become too friendly. It’s become infested with subtle bragging and a plethora of “likes”, which fuels the fire and causes a perpetual cycle. Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller wrote about it in her post, “Think Before U Like”. The New York Times noted that we’ve become “increasingly sophisticated braggers” who are in essence asking for assertions & reactions from others on social networks. The Wall Street Journal asked, “Are We All Braggarts Now?”.  Fast Company recently wrote an article about a new app called the Subtexter, which empowers “humblebraggers to embrace the true meaning behind their photos.”

 

We’ve begun to hand out affirmations to almost anyone who crosses our social media path, whether or not we truly think highly of the content. Thoughtlessness is prevailing and I fear we’re creating our own “boy who cried wolf” scenario – no “Like” actually means something when it’s handed out too freely.

 

While we give away “Likes” freely, we expect them in return. We check, re-check and triple-check the quantity of people who have seemingly verified our content worth by means of a button. “Likes” make us feel better. We’re only human after all, and let’s face it, at the core of this subject is human psychology transformed into digital form.

 

Then again, it’s just a like. Isn’t the purpose of sharing our bits of life with the internet to be social? And isn’t the root of being social to be liked? Are we falling into a habit of forgetting to think about our updates & likes, and are instead just doing it to see and be seen?

 

One thing has become clear to me while thinking of the topic at hand – I want to enter a new realm of social practice. I want my Instagram profile to be filled with images that are well thought-out. I want to be more creative. I want to stop putting out updates with the intent of getting responses and instead focus on sharing what I find of true value. I want to “Like” only the photos & updates I actually like.

 

In short, I’m finding more and more importance in practicing quality over quantity in social media. I want to be social, but I want it to mean something. Care to join?

 

About the Author: Emily VanderBeekis a digital advertising professional living & playing in Chicago. She is the blogger behind Isn’t That Charming, a lifestyle blog focused on the fashions, DIY projects & inspirations that charm her socks off.

 

Photo via Fast Company.

Comments

  1. hijabist says:

    *LIKE*……no, really! Very valid points and ones I have thought about often. Especially the part about putting your best work out there…instead of writing/publishing every thought that springs to mind. I, too, would like to join that special realm of social practice that you talk about.

  2. Avatar of Charlotte
    Charlotte says:

    It’s very interesting to read. This caught me: “We’ve begun to hand out affirmations to almost anyone who crosses our social media path, whether or not we truly think highly of the content. ”

    Many bloggers in here expect one to follow and like their blog back, if they have followed or liked one. Or they just say that they will follow or like back without even seeing the blog. I think that is wrong. They should follow me, if they truly like the blog. And I should only follow them back, if I truly like theirs. Or what? Is that not point?
    I don’t want 1000 blogs on my bloglovin. Who have the time to read that?
    Well, that’s just my opinion. :)

    • Avatar of Dana
      Dana says:

      I agree 100%! I am new to this community and I’ve been so taken aback by all the messages from people saying they will follow my blog if I follow them first – what kind of a deal is that? If I like their blog, I will follow them. If they like mine, they can follow me. But I they follow me just because I followed them first they’re not going to read me anyways, so what’s the point?

      Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing everyone’s blog, but I’m not in elementary school anymore to be forced to “like” those who like me (and vice versa).

      • Avatar of Kristen
        Kristen says:

        I’m fairly new, too, and the amount of messages I get like this is astounding. I checked out all of their blogs, followed the ones I genuinely liked, and replied to every one of them until I realized they were not actually checking out my blog (I have analytics, people) and just looking to boost their numbers. I have only made one sincere connection since I joined this month and it’s kind of disheartening that this community is filled with people like that, but I know the longer I’m here the more people I’ll find who really do want to connect.

        People who only focus on likes and followers will not last long. Let’s face it, their content is not the best and you know they will just lose steam, they can’t beg for likes forever. It’s the connections you make that will last!

        • Avatar of Joshua
          Joshua Jenks says:

          I completely agree and I’m glad that this is getting some attention. I am slowly working my way through all of the requests on here and I have definitely found some blogs that I like and want to follow and a lot that are great, but don’t really interest me (as my primary focus is menswear). The instant inundation with messages and friend requests make it difficult to separate the legitimate interest from those just looking for a boost in their stats. Follow for follow (or like for like) seems to defeat the entire purpose and the same goes for all social media. I want to follow things that interest me and I would hope to be followed by people that are interested in what I have to say.

  3. I can admit it. I am a “like” whore. I give them out freely all the time. I would say many times my “like” is more to say, “hey, I was here, I read what you said or looked at your pictures and this is easier than me leaving a comment that you probably don’t want to read anyway” or something along those lines. Sometimes I wish there was a double like button. One for “hey,” and the other for “good job”. I know I don’t use it how it was intended but that is how my internet surfing has evolved with all the like buttons.

  4. Addison says:

    I hate that what you’re saying is true, but it is. But I think to a certain extent, it’s necessary to do this to get the word out about a blog… especially in a niche that is so damn saturated!!

    Love the analysis. xoxxx

    http://willcodeforclothes.com

  5. bonita says:

    It’s funny, because I hate giving out “likes” randomly – for fear that they will lose their meaning, yet I still wonder why MY “likes” are relatively few and far between…

    Does that mean that the “likes” I get ARE genuine likes? It makes me wonder. And smile at the small numbers instead of stressing/getting depressed over it.

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!

  6. Ais says:

    I much prefer a well thought out comment over a like.

    • I completely agree. A comment, specifically a well thought out comment, gives me something I can work with. It gives me ideas and conversation and that is much better than any “like.” You cannot work with a “like.”

  7. Avatar of Nadya Helena
    Nadya Helena says:

    I definitely agree with your point of view. We also often judge a photo/post/anything by the number of likes they receive. This really shouldn’t be the case. We should be able to judge a content from an unbiased point of view (aka not needing to see the number of Likes it received). Good job writing this article, I hope more people (myself included) are more genuine when they give out a click of Like.

    Nadya

  8. Avatar of Zeinab Al-Hussaini

    I totally agree, I actually used to be a random liker, if you like me, I like you. This article actually made me realize the importance of blogging instead of being a like-machine. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Avatar of CleartheWay
    CleartheWay says:

    I think this culture is really lacking in genuineness as a whole, across many boards. I find it hard to make meaningful friendships in real life because of this problem, but it’s even worse online where it is much more convenient to spread contrived pseudo-social kudos. I don’t know if people are afraid of making real connections or if they are simply lazy and self-focused. Personally, I find it a great help to my own blogging endeavors to surround myself with inspiration gathered from other like-minded bloggers online. When I take the time to enjoy other people’s blogs and give them meaningful feedback, I am enriching both their lives and learning to grow my taste.

    Wasting “likes” is wasting an opportunity to learn more about yourself—what you really like and why. Learning to be clear and direct with your opinion will help focus your taste as well as your self-awareness.

  10. jCa says:

    BRILLIANT PIECE. Emily, I applaud you. And in a day or two, I will share this on my facebook wall. Because I’ve already posted too much about Newton and I’m afraid friend will unfriend me (only slightly joking: the need to feel ‘liked’ – as a female – is never something that completely goes away, I just have better days and less better days).

    I was once quite a popular blogger: a long time ago in blog years. 2009, to be exact. A lot of girls ‘liked’ me.

    I got popular in the same way that a friend recently described the reason she became Homecoming Queen in her California high school: not because she was particular popular (or bitchy, or ambitious – she’s so not) but because every time she saw someone sitting alone in the cafeteria, she’d sit down and talk to them. It wasn’t a strategy – she had no interest in becoming a HQ, that was just a by product.

    So when my ‘star’ started rising – because I was in the right place at the right time, shooting streetstyle, using my older sister nature to encourage and nurture others – and because, fair dues, I was working really hard and delivering a good product – I became targeted by ambitious bloggers. Women who were so skilled at the game that they genuinely seemed like really nice people who wanted to comment on my blog.

    We became virtual friends.

    Then we became real friends.

    Then I started doing favours for them: shooting them (everyone was basically a ‘self style’ blogger – they all wanted to be Rumi) and promoting them and basically working for them. In 2010, my blog – without even realising it was happening – moved from streetstyle, to ‘let’s show case the self stylers’. Then when I got offers that would have raised my profile to the next level, they stabbed me in the back, took my gig, and – again, thru the clever art of humblebrag – inverted the story so I was the crazy one. Publicly befriending my friends, privately sending me email death threats at 3:00 and gloating about how their numbers were bigger than mine.

    They had more likes. And I let them.

    Most of them – but not all, the ripple effect is wide- made it to this month’s cover story of the UK Company magazine. (There are I think two or three that either I don’t know, or are nice enough). And I say, hats off to them. They’ve arrived. As for me, I find that living well is the best revenge.

    It’s all a variation of the X factor philosophy: nothing matters more than being popular. It’s also the theme of my novel, btw! Which I wrote as part of my cleansing experience, of letting go of my fear and my anger. And it’s worked: I don’t look at my stats, and I have far less visitors, but I have real friends, and a husband who I actually have a relationship with.

    Being ‘liked’ by a lot of strangers is not the same as being loved by a few people you actually, like, you know, KNOW.

  11. jCa says:

    p.s. – haha – soon as I sent this – I’m LOLing – I hit ‘like’!

  12. Sandra says:

    Oh the insidious nature of the chase for “likes”. Something you toss off in 15 minutes gets a zillion likes. Something you are passionate about and labour over has a few if any. So easy to start selling out for likes, so to speak.

    If I’m honest, I want a readership that is engaged and commenting. I would rather have a smaller group of loyal readers than a huge number that I never know.

    But it’s easy to slip into that “more more more” mindset and the subtle pressure of “I liked your post, why don’t you like mine?”.

  13. Avatar of zoe phinazee
    zoe phinazee says:

    I must say, I found this post very interesting. I don’t have a twitter or facebook fan page so I don’t ask people for likes, but I am guilty of messaging people on here to follow my blog. For me personally, I feel like i’ve been blogging for years without recognition and I join IFB and all of a sudden i have all these followers and it feels great! But from now on, i’m gonna focus more on content, and (less on followers(well not as much). Hopefully people will like the content genuinely

  14. Great post. I’ve always believed in quality over quantity, and I’m glad to see others realizing that it’s not all about the numbers. It IS human nature to want to be liked, and all this tweeting and instagramming is because we crave social interaction, and the Internet gives us reach not confined by borders or countries, or languages, even. No one wants to speak, in any medium, and be ignored, hence paying attention to the likes. It’s not a big deal until you make it one.

    I’ve said it before: fashion blogging, is inherently narcissistic. Yes, to a degree, we are all braggarts. But it’s also inspiring, has given me a killer support group for tech/life/health questions, and I have developed many friendships as a result. Which is why I choose to remain a hobby blogger—then I can participate genuinely and partner with whom I please, because the numbers don’t matter.

  15. Christina says:

    I think this is a very valid point. I am so very tired of people clicking the like button just because. Half the time there isnt even a recollection of what they even “liked” in the first place. That is why comments are so very important. It is a feeling of interaction instead of a zombie like action. Great article, thanks for making people think about their actions.

  16. ” I will clap when I’m impressed”. That’s my motto for liking posts or anything on social media. It really takes away if people “like” because they want favors or something in return. Anyways, Great post.

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