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Likes On Social Media - Are they necessary, or is it your ego?


INTRODUCTION:


As a reminder, there will be no blog post on July 3rd. I want to take a moment to wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy Independence Day. Tonight's topic regarding social media likes for individual posts has been controversial. Does it cause more harm than good? Are they necessary, or are they just a manifestation of our egos?


I chose this topic because of an email from a teenager in California. This individual was concerned that they did not get many likes no matter what was posted on their social media platforms. Whereas their other friends always received many likes for their posts.


It is well-known that social media platforms have become addictive for young people and many adults. Social media is a way to pass the time and keep up with what is happening with family and friends. Advertisers spend billions a year advertising on these sites because it is a captive audience. We all know if you click on one ad, magically, you start receiving multiple ads about similar products—the joys of internet tracking.


For this particular individual, it was a saddening experience. They reached a point where they tried everything to get likes for their posts. Their question was, "What am I doing wrong? I hit the like button on other people's posts. Don't people like me or my posts? I have a large friend base. I don't understand this. Can you explain or help?"


First, I am NOT a social media expert and do not have a crystal ball. Some people on social media hit the like button on everything they read, while others never do. What we wonder is, are a post's likes about a person's popularity, content, or just what some people randomly do? For me, I rarely hit the like button. I do not follow how many likes I receive on my posts. I do not find that information relative, nor does it guide me as to what to post. Possibly because I am not an egotistical person. Therefore, for me, it's irrelevant.


However, I did much research to discuss this topic properly. I rarely hit the like button on anything unless I feel the content is relative to the well-being of something or someone.


THE REAL DEAL:


People hit the like button for various posts for different reasons.

Some like posts in the hopes others will return the like for their posts. People may like posts on specific platforms hoping that that person or celebrity will follow them. Studies show that social media and getting "likes" activates reward centers in the brain. The problem is this. As people, especially teenagers, when they get likes, it can make them want more and more. The one danger of social media is its pervasiveness. Here is the link to grhealth that wrote an excellent article on this.


At times, obtaining likes can become an obsession for many and cause other psychological problems. Likes are viewed as a form of approval or validation. Psychology Today wrote, "Do Social Media 'Likes Matter for Teen's Well-Being?" Another good article to read.


The science is simple. Dopamine is the hormone that the brain releases when it reacts to happiness. Studies show that every time someone sees a more significant number of likes, the brain initiates a massive increase in this hormone. Therefore, it is safe to say that the number of "likes" play an important role in someone's social media satisfaction. However, what about the other side of that coin? What about the person who begins to feel depressed or shows sign of depression because they are not receiving a massive number of likes? Is that a healthy response? Can it lead to problems?


Also, amongst groups of friends, it often becomes a competition regarding who gets the most likes. This leads to many posts that can and have caused harm to people and others. We have all seen the challenges people have posted on social media in the past, or we have heard about them on the news. We must remember that billions of social media users are across different platforms. When dealing with this many people, we must not forget that some may have other mental impairments that specific posts can trigger. Posts that represent sexual content or violence are two examples.


I am all for and fully support the 1st. Amendment. However, how far do we allow that to go in the public platform that social media represents? We have all seen some of the sexually explicit content that shows up on some platforms. Should social media be more regulated as to what content is allowed? Basically, where do we draw the line? Or should there be a line? We are all aware there are websites that people use for that type of entertainment. All of this speaks to the quest for more post likes. Steve Rose, Ph.D., wrote an excellent article on social media addiction.


Over time, smartphones have become so advanced that society has become addicted to them. When was the last time you saw a family together at a restaurant or family function where no one was using their phone? Have people forgotten how to socialize without using cell phones or social media? People end relationships in a text message. That's pretty cowardly if you ask me. Your tools are meant for you to control, not for them to control you.


That being said, social media does take up time for lonely people who need a mode of communication—something to occupy their time. That is not a bad thing. However, if something such as a "like" button starts to rule a person's life, we can all agree that may not be good. I stated earlier, I don't put much stock into the "like button." I believe it is more of an ego booster for the majority than a tool for gauging the quality of content. However, I respect the personal choice that each person can make regarding its use. With every story, there are always two sides. Let's take a look at the flip side.


THE FLIP SIDE:


Like all things in life, everything has pros and cons. For advertisers, the like button is a gauge for their marketing plan. It helps them determine what type of advertising is and is not working. Also, it's not wrong to make someone feel good about a post they made. The issue becomes problematic when it goes overboard and causes problems or other issues. It is a slippery slope at best.


However, after reviewing much of the data surrounding the "like" button, in the end, I believe it does more harm than good. However, should advertisers suffer? People constantly complain about the number of ads they see in their newsfeeds. Remember, those paid advertisers keep the platform free for others to use. Social Media sites are in the business of making money. If you want them to get rid of advertisers, then be willing to pay a subscription fee to use the platform. Wait, no one wants to pay a fee! Well, you can't have it both ways.


Maybe the "like" button should be available only for paid advertisers. But then, if someone posts a beautiful picture of a sunset, what is wrong with liking it? Therefore, is the problem the people and how they use and interpret that silly like button?

Do social media platforms have a responsibility to their users? I supplied you with a few links regarding articles on this topic. The funny part is I could not find anything that fully supported the "like" button or refuted any medical claims about its effects on people. Therefore, it is clear that there are far more cons than there are pros to the controversial button.


People have egos. It is human nature—part of the human condition. The facts are that the "like" button can either boost or crush a person's ego. As a rule of thumb, it should be eliminated when anything in life causes more harm than good. Of course, the cons affect fewer users, but it does matter, especially if those effects are detrimental.


Society gauges things in life by what is acceptable. Acceptable losses, acceptable gains, we can deal with a little explicit sexual content but not a lot. What is acceptable to you? Is that acceptable if a plane crashes carrying 160 people and only ten people die? Do we say at least 150 people lived, so that's good? The problem with accepting things is that when we start to accept smaller things, we will eventually begin to accept larger things.

Some might say, then get rid of the comment button as well. Not so much. Why? Because the comment button opens a line of communication between the person who made the post and others. They often lead to a debate. Sometimes it is a good thing, and other times it may not be such a good thing. The difference is the post's originator can delete any comment(s) made or remove the post if things get out of hand. Like that, poof. It's gone. The effects of the comment button are different on individuals than the "like" button. This is because the comment section allows everyone to speak their mind. Exchange thoughts whether they agree or disagree. It leads to interaction. The "like" button is purely subjective and provides no form of response. It just negatively affects some people.


IN CLOSING:


I know what you may be thinking. The "like" button is a person's choice to use. That is true. However, we are not speaking about a person's choice. We are discussing the effects that choice may have on others. That is an important issue. As for me, I rarely, if ever, used the "like" button from the start of the social media era. I always viewed it as an unnecessary item. As the years have passed and social media has grown exponentially, the data has shown that this tiny little button causes problems for some. Video views are entirely different and do not fall under the same umbrella as the "like" button because most people will view a video. The number of views a video gets is looked upon differently than the "like button." Even though their meaning is similar, I will view a video long before using the "like button."


Remember earlier I stated that the "like" button represented a form of validation or approval? That is the key. That is the beginning and the end of where the problem exists for many. Unless people run analytics on their views, they have no idea if the entire video was fully watched or clicked on and stopped. No validation or approval is assumed.


The other problem is in the social media algorithms, which means what shows up on your newsfeed. Another thing to keep in mind, on some platforms, unless you scroll down hundreds of posts, due to the number of users and how many people you follow or are friends with, the average post falls down the list very quickly. Basically, on average, after 150 minutes, your post has made 75% of its impressions. Unless your friends or those following you scroll and scroll, they may never see it. Therefore, that could be a reason for few likes.


Studies are done for every social media platform on what time of day and what days of the week are the best times to post. You may be posting something at a less opportune time. Therefore, there are numerous factors involved. On some platforms, you may have to post something substantial a few times a day and a few days a week to ensure the most connected people see it. Most do not do that. Advertisers do. That is what they pay for.


To say the "like" button is a complicated issue with varying viewpoints would be an understatement. Maybe it comes down to personal preference or better public education on how the social media enterprise works. However, for now, we can only go by the facts and the proven data, and the data appears to support that the "like" should go away, and I agree.

Please feel free to leave comments, or if you have a topic you would like me to discuss, you can email me at crondina@caesarrondinaauthor.com. Thank you.


Be safe, stay well, and focus on being happy. And remember to always:


Live with an open mind,

Live with an open heart,

Live your best life.


Best Regards,



Caesar Rondina


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