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?