Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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Like and Dislike

  • Facebook has a button for "Like" but does not have a button for "Dislike". A Facebook user is only allowed to send positive comments (or send none) to someone else's posting.
  • Like most behaviors on the Web, Facebook is an effect and not a cause.
  • Society's ethical values have evolved towards more and more polite and respectful behavior. You are supposed to be nice, not rude.
  • This polite attitude is also reflexive, making people nicer to themselves.
  • Way before Facebook was born, there was already a trend towards being "positive" at all costs: whatever happens is good, and whatever you do is right. Facebook's "Like" button is just the natural consequence of this "positivism" (as in "being positive at all costs").
  • It's a consequence of our definition of "civilized".
  • Civilized life is (emphasis on "is") a popularity contest.
  • There is no opposite of "like" the same way that there is no opposite of "please".
  • The "Like" button is an element of an elaborate collective fantasy of a perfect smiling society.
  • When we analyze phenomena that are taking place on the Web, we often tend to analyze phenomena that have been brewing in society and that the Web simply accelerated
  • The "Like" button is part of a general trend towards not criticizing people.
  • One consequence is that it is difficult to improve one's personality in the absence of criticism. There is generally more information in criticism than in praise.
  • Another consequence is that receiving many "Likes" may create a positive reinforcement of one's self-confidence. Of course the truth is less glamorous: if ten people click on the button "Like" out of the 500 friends one has, it means that 490 of those friends are either indifferent or actually "dislike".
  • The "positivist" effect of the "Like" button may be creating fragile psyches that can easily break down the first time they realize that almost nobody actually likes them. How many people who click on "Like" would be willing to send just $1 instead of clicking on Like? Let alone $100 or $1,000...
  • "Like" is so easy it can create the illusion of popularity when in fact the reality might be the exact opposite.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras