WordPress has now added a “like” button to all their blogs, a la Facebook. If you “like” a post, it gets a gold star. So, if I write a really funny or moving post, you can give me a gold star like teachers give to kindergartners when they manage to go a whole week without pooping on their desk!
It reminds me of Xanga’s “e-props” or whatever, which came in the form of two gold coins, like some kind of useless blog currency. The default number of e-props was two, but if you felt inclined, you could click down to one. This was pretty insulting, as if to say, “your post displeased me enough that I took the time to click off an e-prop for you. Jerk.” Not e-propping at all was one thing, but to take the time to knock someone down an e-prop was a slap in the face. For those few glorious years in the mid-00’s when Xanga reigned supreme over the blogozone, one e-prop on a post was mark of shame, an e-scarlet letter.
E-props were dumb. Blogs are as open to criticism as anything else, but it’s weird to have a ranking system for a blog entry, as anyone needs a random reader to say, “I liked that post about how you overcame cutting yourself, but not enough for two whole e-props. It wasn’t that good.”
Thankfully, in these more civilized times, we have “like” buttons. Facebook has really blown this whole liking thing wide open. First you could just like posts. Now you can “like” comments on said posts. I assume we will eventually be able to “like” someone else’s “liking.” You can log on and see that Sarah “liked” Jane’s new profile picture and say to yourself, “I don’t like Jane’s new profile picture, but I like that Sarah likes it. I would like to like that.”
Liking is quick and simple. It saves you the trouble of thinking of a comment. In a way, “liking” is the whole Facebook phenomenon distilled to its essence. To put that in SAT format, “Liking” is to Facebook comments what Facebook is to friendship: a way of maintaining a connection without putting forth any actual effort. I truly don’t mean that as a criticism. I like that Facebook allows me to maintain connections I would have lost otherwise, due to time and distance. I like that I can think, “gee, I wonder what so-and-so from high school is up to,” log on, and find out. I like that I can express my approval of my friends’ witty comments or pretty photos with a click of a button. I like liking things. I like it when people like my things. I like to be liked. And I hope you will like my likes.
Lately, though, the liking thing has gotten out of control. Now you can like books, movies, politicians, celebrities, countries, foods, etc. Gone are “favorites.” Favorites are dead! Long live likes!
And it’s extended beyond Facebook. Now you can like websites or news articles. If I go to CNN, all of sudden, I see the articles my Facebook friends have liked. This disturbs me, like Facebook is infecting my webz. I don’t like it when an article on a bombing in Jordan asks me to like it. Why the hell would I like that? Because the reporter describes the carnage and horror well?
Even on Facebook, it can get weird. Sometimes “liking” doesn’t seem like enough. Like when a friend posts “I just got engaged!” and I instantly think, “wow, you just announced big, wonderful, life-altering news. You’ve probably never been happier than you are right now. Let me express my approval of that in the simplest way possible.”
Obviously, I’m over thinking this (that’s what blogs are for. That and self-promotion). You can “like” something and do more. You can like a friend’s engagement and pay for the stripper at the bachelor party. There’s nothing wrong with “liking” something like that. We should like these things. We should like liking and like that other people like liking. Because it’s simple, it’s easy, and it doesn’t take away from anything else. It’s nice. It’s likable.
Right now, you’re thinking I’m going to end this post with some blithe request for you to like it. And you’re totally right.
LIKE THIS POST! LIKE IT NOW! LIKE IT! LIKE IT!!!