Use Your Words: Facebook Without Likes

This is an intriguing post by Ms. Elan Morgan (in brief: she stopped using the “like” button on Facebook and found that it improved her news feed, while rendering her interactions…into actual interactions, with other people, with greater delight). She notes that cessation of liking things is difficult, so I will not necessarily follow her lead. Still, I’m curious to see how pronounced the difference might be between my feed now and my feed after a period of like-avoidance.

Facebook Like buttonThere are, presumably, more and less healthy ways to use Facebook. I took a look at my activity log for the past month: out of my 170 likes, only 2 were for content served up by a business or personality (Conor O’Neill’s Pub and the Inky Fool) rather than an individual I know; most likes were for status updates (72), photos (51), and links (38; this last category is most likely to involve third parties – think-tanks, news organizations, and the like).

Hitting the like button strikes me as a less-creepy way to engage with the acquaintances I don’t really talk to: K in New York making dumplings, V sharing beautiful desserts and Mumford lyrics, a friend-of-a-friend with a nice photo here, a fellow-that-was-always-cooler-than-me sharing an incisive thought there. But perhaps if I did comment, I’d find that it was not unwelcome; whenever I hear from college friends or more distant acquaintances, it tends to be more pleasant than strange.

Curiously, Ms. Morgan does not comment on whether abandoning the “Like” changed her output. Obviously, the experience of hitting “like” has more to do with what we receive or observe on Facebook than what we ourselves write, produce, or share. And yet…when Ms. Morgan used her words to comment on the posts of others, she produced content of her own. Not only did she render herself visible on the platform, but she added something: more focused approbation, old stories, perhaps exposition or criticism of whatever posts she saw.

But there’s also the content that she could supply by herself – her own statuses, pictures, links. Did she avoid sharing clickbait (or, similarly, “likebait”) in favor of something more substantial? Did the effort needed to refrain from hitting “like” extend to more carefully sifting what she herself posted?

I frequently debate with myself before posting things. Two impulses war within me: “Just write something (it doesn’t matter what)” versus “Only add if I can edify.” Where Facebook is concerned, I tend to avoid the weighty – mostly because I don’t want to spend all day getting into fights on the internet – in favor of the silly: informal polls, music of the moment, links I can’t share on my brother’s wall because of his settings, or various delightful happenstances.

The aforementioned brother suggested I ask Ms. Morgan herself if she recognized a shift in that direction. As it is, I think I’ll try a fortnight or two without likes. Perhaps it, too, will expand my love!

8 thoughts on “Use Your Words: Facebook Without Likes

  1. Liked. 😉

    I tend to avoid Facebook, though I have been forced to log on recently in order to see cute pictures and videos of my nephew. Ah, what I do for family!
    I do think that I use “like” too much, but I wonder if there isn’t a legitimate cause for doing it. It’s a way of acknowledging “I read this and like it” when I don’t have time or inclination to comment on everything I read or like… and vacuous comments don’t really add anything to a conversation.

    • Oh bother, I meant to address that facet of it too! Both the possibility of vacuous comments and the fact that in certain cases (birth of a new child, engagements, weddings), leaving a comment means being swept up in a whirlwind of a hundred other people adding their congratulations.

      Would it get weird after a while to say things like “I concur!” or “Hurrah” or “Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with this”? I imagine it might. But perhaps that was why her comments grew more focused and content-laden.

      …but then, again, you are quite correct to note that one doesn’t always have time or the desire to make comments on everything. Perhaps that, too, would have benefits of its own – it’s not like I can read everything, so I suppose the lesson that I can’t always *discuss* everything could be worthwhile!

      • Exactly! The older I get, and the more things that clamor for my attention, the more selective I become. God give me wisdom in my selection! But there just isn’t time or energy for “it all.”
        The internets can be wonderful, but they can also drown silent time. How can I make good comments if I haven’t time to think!

        But those are tangerines… er… tangents, I guess.

  2. I don’t usually ‘like’ things on Facebook unless I actually … like them. So I’m not sure what I would get out of *not* ‘liking’ things. Usually I use it as shorthand for, “I have read this, I approve of it, but I have nothing to add.” Because yeah, people may need to use a little more discretion when they ‘like’ things, but there are also more than enough moronic comments that I don’t need to be adding my “voice” to them.

    But then… “Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.”

    (“Sir, the people must have their voices; neither will they bate one jot of ceremony.”)

    (Your voices: for your voices I have fought;
    Watch’d for your voices; for your voices bear
    Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
    I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
    Done many things, some less, some more your voices:
    Indeed I would be consul.)

    …I need help.

    • I think the chief benefit would be (shall be?) a more ‘natural’ news feed – fewer “recommended” posts, and more from people. Which might not be much of a difference at all for either of us, since, yeah, it’s basically the same shorthand for me. If there’s no real change after a couple of weeks, then I shall ‘like’ things as I did before.

      re: voices: shine on, you crazy diamond. I am thanking God that the “wear a gown to show off your scars” tactic is not current American political campaign practice, because erlack.

      • In church yesterday, during all the forced community, the pastor and worship team kept using phrases like “joining our voices together” and I kept thinking of Coriolanus and grinning and I am slightly ashamed.

      • I feel like that might be a better tactic than sitting there annoyed. Hmmm. Which IS the lesser evil?

      • Hard to say. Annoyed implies that I’m still paying attention to what is going on. Grinning stupidly at something completely unrelated means that my mind has wandered far, faaar away.

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