The strange obsession for Likes/comments on Facebook

Mr Thoms of Italy who is one of the worlds’s most acclaimed Street Artists, has an interesting painting “Like a vision”. It is of a maniacal looking man chasing the coveted Facebook Like. Top scientist and Oxford University Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield warns us that Facebook (FB) is creating a generation obsessed with themselves and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives.

Is this Food for thought?  Is it a subject we all can relate to? Please Read on.

FB started in 2004 and the world was not the same again. Earlier we humans used to get upset when someone got to know about our private moments. Now after FB caught on and became the fad, we humans get upset if everyone does not get to know about our private moments. This feeling according to me got accentuated after FB introduced the concept of “likes” a few years back.

Now What are Likes on FB.  The like button is a social networking feature, allowing users to express their appreciation of content such as status updates, comments, photos, and advertisements (Wiki). So if an FB Friend posts some content, one can appreciate it by pressing the “like” button. This of course does not mean that if one does not press the like button, one has disliked the post or has ignored it.

Is there a Dislike Button on FB. Well, No. Zuckerberg says he considered it seriously but gave up the idea as it may encourage negativity and users could use it to “shame” others. He says that for those unwilling to use the Like button, he has offered the “comment” button.

What is Comment button. Simple. One can comment on content such as status updates or photos. Thereby one can give views of appreciation or of even disagreement or criticism.

It is only logical that if an user posts something on FB, he expects his Facebook friends to like it or give a comment. This is but quite natural, otherwise why would someone post something on social media. It logically is due to someone wanting others to know about something, and react to it. But why this need. Isnt it surprising ? Here, Baroness Greenfield who is a House of Lords Member with 32 degrees and  200 published papers can be quoted again  “why should someone be interested in what someone else had for breakfast? It reminds me of a small child saying “look at me Mummy, i am doing this, Look at me I am doing that.”” Its almost as if they are in some kind of identity crisis..In a sense its keeping the brain in a sort of time warp ”

Let’s analyse Why this need. Apparently some FB users feel the need to become mini celebrities who are watched and admired by others on a daily basis. There is a need for them to do things which they think are FB worthy. They live in a world which is not a real world but a world where what counts is what people think of you or what they click about you. Serious research has been done and is being done on this.

 Extent to which A FB user can go. Imagine the extent. Then please imagine a bit more. Still you can’t imagine how much and to what extent an FB user can go. He may actually start using an Internet bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, which is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone ( Wiki). In simpler words, an internet Bot is used to generate views on you tube and likes or shares on FB.

Why . Isnt it strange. No, apparently not. Literacy expert and author of 200 books Sue Palmer,most well known for her book “toxic childhood” says that “people paint their own portrait on line. They live as star of their own reality TV show that they create and put out to the world”. Therefore it is quite possible that an FB user first convinces himself how great he/she is in some particular area. And then uses BOT to generate fake likes.

Tagging too is a tool used to enhance likes/comments. As two of my senior friends were discussing , tagging is kind of forcing someone to like the post. Regular tagging can be a burden on someone’s timeline and extremely boring. People are too prone to assume that by tagging someone, a favour is done to them or that the tagged person is flattered. Solution for excessive tagging however is simple and has been provided by FB itself. Use privacy option so that a tagged post needs permission to show up on timeline.

Implications of this obsession for FB likes.  Straightaway one can diagnose three scary developments in a person. Reduced concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations. These, as one can obviously realize can have fast reaching consequences.

Conclusion and Solution. Lets accept it. FB seems to be here to stay. Unlike other social media, it is brilliantly adaptative and innovative. It is taken very seriously. Even Heads of State’s and Governments too are having their own official FB page recognising its importance. American President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have well over 4.5 crore and 3 crore likes respectively. One can presume political leaders too look for FB Likes. And presumably Likes received by their opponents. This can be elaborated by narrating an interesting true incident, The Sheriff of Hampton, Viginia , USA actually terminated employees who liked the FB page of an adversary. Consequently, a federal appeals court in Virginia handed down a decision that the US Constitution protects the rights of US citizens to like any FB page of their choosing.

What i mean to say is that in such a situation, where even Governments and Heads of States give such importance to Facebook Likes, how can an individual not do so. Especially when a master spider like Zuckerberg is craftily weaving his web.

The only solution is introspection (unfortunately something which we are not good at). Still, one has to do so. One has to introspect whether one is falling into this deep well of no return. Thereafter one has to make conscious efforts to come out of it. Ideally, one should reach the stage where one pursues one’s hobby and interest and posts on social media, be it views or songs or articles for one’s own satisfaction, without being affected by the reactions of others (likes or lack of them). It’s not too difficult. One has to however recognise the potential problem and its gravity (for it is actually serious and potentially a life changing problem) and then take corrective steps. The mantra is Introspection.

I hope you liked this blog. I too am putting it on FB. And i promise you even if there are no likes or comments i wont use BOT to enhance fake likes.

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