I think of likes on social media kind of like non-verbal responses in the real world.
I agree with the statements Matt makes (or made a while ago) because they are accurate to social media convention. Most people won’t reply, nor will the author get as much affirmation back to their post. But to that, I push back and say it doesn’t matter.
We’ve convinced ourselves to do things for likes and clicks. Posting for the sweet dopamine that comes from peoples responses when we shouldn’t care. As if posting to the internet is some kind of performative act.
I say shouldn’t because I get it, we all like likes, but we shouldn’t do. A like online is the social media version of “lol” to a text message. It means I’ve seen this, and I want to avoid appearing rude, so heres a button click.
In many ways, it’s worse. Even if, as Matt points out, the replies are mostly “cool” and other derivatives, at least the person took some time to do it. They didn’t fall down, responding with anything besides a button click. But pressing like makes you and the person on the other end feel good, so there’s no immediate downside, really.
It’s the long-term effects that cause the issues. Even though it may not apply to you, a huge proportion of people get self-worth from likes. They have become a yard stick that people measure themselves against, and have removed a lot of interaction. Not all interaction is verbal, I get it, but I also don’t have a counter next to the number of people that’s smiled at me today.