Why I like everything.

Have you posted anything online recently? Chances are I’ve liked it. It doesn’t matter if I actually liked it you will have received a notification saying I do anyway. This is why.
It all started when a post of mine got traction on Instagram and got over 20 likes, which while wholly unimpressive, was a lot for me with my small network of followers. Every time a new notification popped up informing me of another person approving of what id shared, I got another little kick of dopamine. Is that because I’m an attention craving social media addict? Maybe. More likely though, its because that’s exactly what the like function is supposed to do.

Sites realised long ago that they could game our attention and get users to keep coming back to sites with that tiny little dopamine kick of societal approval. It’s the way we are evolved as social creatures, we seek status, crave approval, it’s part of being human. It may affect each individual differently, but the phenomenon exists and its part of what makes Facebook, twitter and Instagram so addictive. It is this phenomenon that makes us do things we all know are a little vapid. Posing just right for that photo, trying to get your best angle in the best lighting, coming up with the perfect caption and timing the post for when most of your network might see it.

Now we come to my opinion on this… I don’t ‘like’ it. It causes people to be more self-conscious, less free and less honest about who they are, the more you conform the more likes you will get. Dogs, babies, biceps, cleavage – all do well. Informed opinions, bad days at work and a picture of aunty Doris don’t get as far (nobody wants to see your cleavage Doris! Make some cookies and we’ll post those with #homebaked). It also doesn’t feel great when you post something and get zero reactions. But the fact remains that likes feel good and the lack of them can feel bad.

So here I sit with no limit or quota as to how many likes I can issue and a feed full of people posting something they felt was worth sharing. While I may not like the system, I don’t see why I shouldn’t abuse it to spread just the tiniest amount of joy.
While the above is the primary reason for me liking every post it’s not the only one. Part of the reason it works well is because I have pruned my network to only contain people I know or am fond of. If I’m friends with you then it follows that I should be interested in your happiness and if I can influence that by clicking an icon on a screen you bet your ass, I’m doing it.

Lastly, I do it to avoid being digitally profiled. Its long been known that companies profile their users based on likes and reactions. This profile data is what pays for the ‘free’ sites by allowing advertisers to target you. People who consistently like beach pictures can easily be sold a holiday. It’s this same profiling data that is now being abused by companies lie Cambridge Analytica to target people with specific leanings and influence elections and help break down democracy. Knowing this I shouldn’t be liking anything surely, but as far as data goes, bad data is as good as no data. If I like everything my profile is no longer specific to my tastes, the company still gets to sell ads and keep the whole thing churning but my privacy has been invaded just a little less.

So, there it is, free dopamine handouts, being a good digital friend and protecting myself from targeted ads. That’s why I’ll now scroll through my feed double tapping each and every post and chances are I do actually like what you posted. Now go ahead and give me likes too.

#desperate #hypocrite #strokemyego

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