Generation-Y has given new meaning to the idea of "being liked."
Growing up, two phrases were used to describe your affection: You "liked" a person, or you "liked-liked" a person. The first phrase meant you were friends with the person; the latter suggested you wanted something more. Nowadays, the term "like" has taken on a completely superficial connotation, one that defines our thirst for social media acceptance. Having friends on Facebook just isn't enough anymore. Now, it's all about how often your friends "like" whatever it is that you post.
The thumbs up symbol, which was once associated with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel's film rating system, is now innately associated with Mark Zuckerberg and whether or not our peers support our postings on Facebook. Between the number of thumbs on Facebook and hearts on Instagram, we have become virtually obsessed with garnering the public approval of everyone on the web.
We are so consumed by the number of likes we rack up on any given post, we often go as far as to skip the wait and outright ask people to like our posts. Are you kidding me!? This is true; I have had people occasionally text me, or ask me in person, to like something they posted.
"OMG. WTF? You didn't like my status!?" - that very sad person we have all encountered
On some level, we are all guilty of this obsession. We've all posted a status or photo and legitimately checked our phone every 30 seconds to keep track of any additional likes. It's as if we achieve some natural, social media high from witnessing the number of likes increase, almost becoming aroused as the number climbs. More than the arousal, we actually feel mildly depressed when a post doesn't meet our minimum requirement for likes.
Having a photo posted on Instagram, boasting under 11 likes is like showing up to the prom without a date. It's like failing to meet the height requirement for the best ride at the amusement park when you were younger: "Sorry, son. Maybe next year." It's such social media suicide!!
Facebook enables us to like everything from statuses, to photos, to pages, to comments... What's next? When will we be able to like people on Facebook? Imagine getting a text from one of your friends that says, "Dude, you don't like me on Facebook? WTF, man?!" I don't even like you in real life... What did you expect?
Nope, probably not...
Liking something on the web is also about the politics. At the end of the day, just because your posts get the most likes doesn't mean you're the most liked person. Half of the thumbs I chuck up have some sort of motivation supporting them. Sometimes I wonder if there's such a thing as a "malicious like." If I'm only liking a post because I feel guilty, or because I want you to like a post of mine at a later time, does it really count as a genuine like? If someone likes a status and no one sees it, did he or she really like it?
As a generation taught that we are all "winners" and everyone gets a trophy, we have become even more obsessed with glorification than generations before us were. We almost feel that we are entitled to receiving likes on our posts. Of course everyone cares about what we have to say(?). What do you mean you don't care to see my eggs benedict or read my opinions on Governor Chris Christie? Isn't everyone completely enamored by everything I do??
As someone who, because of my job, is constantly posting on social media, I'd be a hypocrite to say that I'm not somewhat of a slave to the likes, too. However, at least my obsession is akin to my career, not just a result of my low self-esteem.
What we need to start focusing on is living life for ourselves, not for the likes. Don't be a slave to social media rankings. We can't go through life making decisions based on how many people will like our posts on social media outlets. Obviously, when we post something, we want it to be well-received by others, but let's not be so obsessed with the need for positive feedback.
If you find yourself turning into one of those people who only cares about who's liking your posts, there's a good chance that at the end of the day, no one is going to like you. What's more important?