Do You, Like, Like ‘Liking’?

Or do you, like, like like ‘liking’?

If you’re of my generation or younger, one generation above mine, have kids of either of those generations, or have ever turned on your television, you probably understand both the title and the subtitle below it – I hope the commas and quotations helped to convey the intonation and meaning of both questions.

I think that there are few English speakers of my generation who don’t use the word “like” too often. It is our verbal tick, probably more used than “um”s or “ah”s, sprinkled among our other words as liberally as seeds on Pepperidge Farm’s 15 Grain Bread. But, like this bread, which actually looks on the inside almost exactly like the company’s Whole Grain or Whole Wheat lines (the only difference being the crust, the outside), our use of the word “like” is only as annoying as we make it out to be and probably not worse than how other generations talk, on the whole.

What really bothers me is the way the word has trickled down into social media. I rather enjoy using it on Facebook – ‘liking’ someone’s status or comment means approving of it. I get to join in the communal laughter at my friends’ witty remarks or pump a virtual fist in the air at their political remarks. It gives me a case of the warm fuzzies to see that people have liked my own rarely updated statuses. So I like Facebook likes okay.

But the ‘like’ button has now become a staple of sorts, and it is maddening. People can like my comments on every website I post on, they can like my reading choices, and, worst of all, they can like my posts right here, on WordPress. Why do I dislike this so much? Because, more often than not, on blogging websites, ‘liking’ is a strategy. And that infuriates me.

I came to WordPress almost four years ago because I’d heard it was a “serious” blogging website. Less TeenOpenDiary and Xanga, less LiveJournal, but a bit more customizable than the then still dull-looking Blogspot. On the whole, I wasn’t and haven’t been let down. I haven’t achieved fame, fortune or book contracts through this blog, but that wasn’t what I was setting out to do as an eighteen year old who’d just barely realized that if she wanted to be a writer she’d better start to actually practice her writing and get over her stage fright and let people read some of her mistakes along the way.

I’ve been happy here, and incredibly lucky – I have found real friends and people who believe in me and my writing. I have found amazing writers whose work I have faith in.
But since that bedamned ‘like’ button was added to WordPress, I’ve felt that this place has turned into some stats factory. Every post I write gets ‘like’d within seconds, too short a time usually for the person to have actually read the thing – the only reason they’re clicking that button is because my post has appeared in the newly published section, where someone, this ‘like’r, is clicking on new posts and liking them, one after another, in the hopes of having on of those people come and visit their blog and read their post.

Isn’t part of the point of blogging the mutual experience? The actual, genuine, process learning to like someone else’s writing style and subjects and, being able to discard that person without them even knowing it if you don’t like what they write, by just leaving their page? This way, liking people just in order to draw some random audience to your own website, seems so… competitive. As if it’s a game that people are trying to get ahead in.

Now, I make no false claims – I check my site stats just like everybody else and get very excited and happy when my readership goes up, and when I don’t post and don’t read my friends’ blogs, I’m well aware that it will go down. But I also don’t randomly travel around WordPress simply clicking the ‘like’ button just to make people come see my own site. If I use the button now, it is only on blogs where I’ve left enough comments that make it clear that I am a regular reader – and then I usually leave a comment as well.

I don’t like liking when I don’t actually know if I like something or not.

What are your (like) thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Do You, Like, Like ‘Liking’?

  1. My thoughts are ones of frustration. Often I do not have time to leave a comment that would be described as meaningful. I’ve read a couple of posts by bloggers in which they outline what constitutes an effective comment: witty, polite, and with the right balance of (blah blah blah). Honestly, I am not always witty, polite or balanced.

    So . . . often I leave my calling card. With you, especially . . . I’ve been reading your stuff for months. I think you’re really talented. But usually, I have nothing useful to say, other than “beautiful,” or “wow,” and since that seems to annoy some bloggers, I go ahead and hit the like button.

    Sigh.

    Just know that if I “like” your stuff, I mean it. As far as my own page, I’m cool with “likes” and with comments. The thing with comments is I get so behind answering them. And often all I can think to say is “thank you” . . . :sigh:

    I really do like your work.

    • Hi, Running from Hell with El – you’re absolutely right. I think I might actually add an edit in which I explain my thoughts on this sort of thing. I do exactly this as well. And when there are people who repeatedly leave “like”s on my blog then I usually assume that they DO read something that I’ve written and I DO want to visit their page. It’s the one-timers that always make me simply know that they’re trawling around looking for “quick fixes” because I know people who do that.

      Thank you for continuing to read my blog – I was actually nervous about posting this rant because I worried I would anger people or make them think I was complaining about people not commenting. UNTRUE. I don’t mind people not commenting – not at all! It’s the fact that there’s a button that makes me think – “yay! someone LIKES me!” and then I never see them again, and I know that they probably actually didn’t read anything I wrote (as in the case of the like button being clicked within seconds of the post going up). Since this happens repeatedly, I’ve gotten upset about it.

      I absolutely do not mean to be complaining about not getting enough comments. Not at all!

      • Aw, this is such a cool comment! And no, your rant did not sound like a rant. You really didn’t sound like you were complaining. Now the one-time commenters (commentators?) remind me of the folks on Twitter who follow you just so you will follow them back . . . then they unfollow you. I mean, it kind of makes me giggle. But it’s obnoxious. I used to follow other bloggers almost as soon as they “liked” a post I’ve written but I’ve gotten a little bit more discriminating over time.

        I hope you’re having a great weekend! I’m off to take a much needed nap. Happy sigh.

  2. I can get behind the “like” button to an extent. If I approve of a post, but don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said already, or if (and this happens more than I’d like to admit) I’m too shy or uncomfortable to post something (like on a stranger’s blog) in response, the ‘like’ button is usually my fallback. My “Hey, I get behind what you’re saying/like your fiction/share your opinion, but I’m too daft to say anything” plan.

    But I do agree with you. It’s lazy and a way of getting people to check your blog, most of the time. (Joke’s on my ‘like’rs really, because I never check their blogs, but I ALWAYS check the blogs of those who comment. I’m rude.)

  3. Erin M says:

    I was extremely tempted to just “like” this post, and leave it at that. 😄

    It would have been a fist-pumping “like,” but rather ironic, of course.

    Definitely understand your feeling of frustration. It’s too bad some people abuse the “like” button the way they do. (Too bad they, like, “like” posts like they do?;)

    I always try to comment when I enjoy a post or have something to say, but as with Running from Hell with El and Kit, I sometimes am at a loss for words.

    Aaaand then half the time (most of the time?) I end up leaving disjointed, rambly posts like this one . . . oops. ^_^”

  4. Sam Hailes says:

    Excellent blog. I actually found it by googling stuff about the ‘liking phenomenon. Over on my blog, I got a tonne of likes within seconds today and thought “I don’t think people are actually reading this!” Your post confirms my thinking. It’s a strategy, and a rather sad one at that!

    Oh one more thing. I liked your post. 😉

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