I remember getting into an argument with my friend because she wouldn’t “like” my Instagram post. Had she not seen it? Had she just forgotten to tap the little heart? No. She saw it. She hadn’t forgotten. She told me the post didn’t speak to her, so why should she “like” it? I was enraged! How could this be? My own friend was not supporting my Instagram greatness (or lack of greatness). It felt like she was not supporting me as a person by not liking my post.
We had talked earlier in the week about how fake the interaction on social media felt. I had told her that among some of my other girlfriends there was an unwritten code that you like each other’s posts, no matter the subject matter, and at times that felt foolish to me. So here she was giving me a taste of my own brutal medicine. Why should she have to “like” my post if she doesn’t actually like it?
While taking a breath, I took a step back and thought about the word “support” and how it played in my friendship. This friend is incredibly supportive in real life. She is reliable; there for me; always has my back. Yet for a brief moment I was willing to forget all the real life gestures and call her a deadbeat because she wouldn’t “like” my post. It made me realize I was valuing the number of “likes” I was getting more than I was valuing the actual people who were liking the content.
This is a common problem. Social Media is engineered to make users addicted to likes, and when we don’t get enough, it can actually affect how we value our own self-worth.
I thought about my own addiction to “likes” but also how I was “liking” stuff I didn’t actually like. Yes, it felt fake but I was so wrapped up in it. A tipping point came when I had a bot account follow me and “like” a bunch of my posts and it made me feel good. This was truly pathetic! But maybe this bot was onto something… I decided right then and there to let go of the control through two steps:
“Like” everything in my path. Throw caution to the wind!
Stop looking at the number of likes I received, but instead post stuff completely for myself.
The result: I feel happier giving unabashed likes. But I still get caught up in how many likes I get. It is hard not to. The best solution is spending less time on Social Platforms that quantify your social interactions. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this – I am the co-founder and CEO of Ussie, a private visual messaging app focused on strengthening relationships. I founded the company with this very problem in mind. On Ussie, you can only send direct visual messages, and the thought is always “this made me think of you.” As a result, the content is always relevant, always real. There is no “like” button to avoid passive communication, instead there is a reply box to encourage conversation. This makes interactions more meaningful. My conversations on Ussie always make me feel good because direct conversations create a more meaningful connection. You can download the app here, or follow me on Instagram and I’ll throw you a bunch of bot-like likes ☺.