Facebook ruined everything.
Ok not really I do love Facebook but sometimes it feels as if it’s everything you didn’t like about high school all over again. Emphasis on the word like because that’s exactly the problem I have with Facebook and Instagram. We have learned to share every moment with the world just because we want a like. Oh you didn’t get at least 50 likes on your profile picture? Sorry you can’t sit with us. It is no longer simply about what status update you post or what your newest profile picture looks like but about how much attention you can garner with that post.
Before Facebook you could just be the normal popular kid, jock, nerd, indie boy/girl or whatever other archetype you can think of, and it would just be prevalent to your high school experience except now it is on display for all of your “friends” to see via your Facebook. Facebook more importantly has the little thumbs up icon we have all come to love or dread known as the like button. Of course Facebook has never created a dislike button to keep up morale; however, not getting a like on something is a statement in its own regard. I can imagine many of your “friends” on Facebook saw that photo or status you posted and did not care enough to go ahead and click that “like” button. We are constantly scrutinizing each other as well as comparing ourselves to one another because if you pass a certain threshold of likes than you are somehow cooler or more important than the next person who just doesn’t get that much attention on social media. We are reducing our personal worth to the clicking capacities of others; it’s a competition we have all been drafted in. The worst part about it is that we all thrive on it. I think everyone cares at least a little, I know I sure do.
Let’s look into the art that is a new profile picture post. When deciding on a new picture not only are we concerned with the photo itself but also more importantly we ask ourselves how are my peers going to perceive this? We wait to post that photo at the optimum time, the moment when you see you have the most friends on chat and then you wait for all the “like” notifications to blow up your Facebook. You impatiently refresh the page and after five minutes if no one has liked it, you contemplate removing the photo altogether. That’s how conscious we are of our self-image, we make it so that our profile picture and its “likes” act as a metaphor for the in person version of yourself and just how many people actually like you. Michael Wesch describes the self as how we come to know ourselves by how others see us, on facebook and instagram liking becomes a big proponent of that creation of the self and more importantly the self-esteem of that self. Social media has gone farther than just giving you the opportunity to create a self, it tells you how to feel about that self. That being said, Facebook’s version of a like has transcended the online world and permeated our real-life interactions. It’s a psychological game. Ask me what my favorite profile picture is; naturally I should think it’s the one with the most likes.
If people did not already care enough about the opinion of others, Facebook and other social media ensured that it became a top concern. Instagram is also a big proponent of the liking craze. People are not just living their life anymore; they can actually start to see things through the lens of social media. For example, when going to a concert, you say to yourself well I’m at a Passion Pit concert right now by the Hudson River, that makes me pretty trendy let me post a status about it. Then during the concert you think wow not only is this a great song but also how awesome would this lighting look on my instagram. We do not just take in the moments, we see things for how social media worthy they are and we deem what is worthy by what is “liked.” On instagram the like isn’t just a neutral thumbs up it’s a cute little heart. To make matters worse, its not hard to give someone a like, on facebook all you need is one click and on instagram you just have to double tap and ta-da LIKED. The consequences of such a menial action are that a high amount of likes not only boosts our self-esteem but it makes us feel “loved.”
“From his excitement, it is clear that “Like” meant a lot more to Michael than just a 127 impulse clicks by his Facebook friends. It meant much more. Although I am sure that he would not voice this aloud, it made Michael feel more than liked; it made him feel loved.”
What peeves me the most about it is how much I care, how psychologically invested I am in that like button. The word like is something that consumes us both in the virtual and real world. We want to be liked in every aspect of life. Like carries a meaning far beyond its denotations, it can make us feel that we are more than what we give ourselves credit for or it can give us the reality check we were trying to avoid.
Everything we do on social media is precisely measured and accounted for by a “like” and plainly displayed for everyone to see and decide if they want to “like” it. It has redefined what we should be proud of and exactly how proud of that thing we should be. I guess the question remains though can we love ourselves without the likes of others?