Gooooooood whatever daytime you are reading this my precious island guests. It is time for another mental health, mindset post thingy where I make a fast from my rocking chair and blame the internet! This time we will look at the negative effects of the Like-Culture.
<Disclaimer: I use Blogger’s names in this post to make it concrete, the actions I tie to them do not in actuality have to link to them, though in some cases I did indeed have similar thoughts but I use this format to get a point across what would mean less with blank names. A fear is made much more real when it seems more concrete>
Nightmare on Like Street
Recently I have written the blog that has gotten the most genuine likes, as well as enter a period where I get a lot less likes in general. I guess that means I suck now?! I don’t think I have changed that much?! I just picked some topics that are closer to my heart!? So that means that is stuff you don’t care for?! So by proxy you do not care about me?! Or worse.. maybe you took the fact that I had little energy to actively visit your blog and be my old bubbly supportive self as me not caring about you and I have been blacklisted and now I can never make friends.
Rini-Senpai likes a lot less of my posts so I guess she must have been dissapointed in me. Megan from a Geeky Gal used to frequently drop a like and now she never does and even Fred from Au Natural has left less likes in the past couple of days. Did I piss them all off. Did they drop me?! Am I THAT bad? I’ve seem them like posts that clearly have less effort put into them.. so that means they hate me?! I might not have used likes enough! I might not have browsed around the block enough spreading enough likes! Perhaps I forgot to click on like because I was reading a phone and upset someone for not liking a really good post?! I am so sorry!
Like Induced Hallucinations
The preceding paragraph is not actually what I think… however at the same thoughts it all crossed my mind briefly. It is not a thought I want to have or that I actively chase.. but the mind races. The reason is that a like is a very poor instrument of measurement, yet because of the importance of being liked.. in our core as a human being something that really is hard to go without. Irina and Megan I take on as examples.. so them not LIKING me in essence would mean me failing my teachers. Fred is so kind and supportive.. so him not liking must mean I really screw things up. Why?
We related the virtual “like” to actual liking.. and they are two whole different kinds of things in actuality. Being liked is important… yet getting likes is not. Yet it can be incredibly hard to separate the two because my brain.. processes.. a like as being liked… how can we distinguish these things? How can we put these into context? I feel like this is a thing I struggle with.. and that there might be others that do it as well so here is a peek into my process. So let’s take a look at what I think is the hardest part about being a somewhat sociable blogger.
Never Assume, Ignorance is Bliss
The most important thing to do is not to think for other people. If Megan doesn’t like my post that doesn’t mean she dislikes it. Maybe she just never read it, maybe she did and got actually engaged in a piece of text and forgot to click the like button. Maybe she was on her phone with the app, in which liking can be more impractical and could not be stuffed going trough that whole thing. There are so much more reasons a person can not like your post other than disliking your post.
For example I see a trend that Rini is much less active in the weekends , which can mean she is doing stuff besides blogging than.. or she doesn’t care for the specific content I bring out near the weekend. While I can assume either of these to be true.. for all that I know she gets captured by aliens who block phone signals or her boyfriend forces her not to look at her phone all the time.
I am not Irina, nor Megan or Scott or Lyn or anyone who interacts with this blog. Why they like.. how and if they read is all simply a guess or assumption, these hold ZERO factual values so any thought of negativity derived from it is based on assumptions. None of the bloggers I worry about that they stopped liking me have ever Boo’ed me in the comments. It is easy to let a mind fill in a blank with a negative perception of it. I think most here would agree. Yet idea of other people hating you, or not liking you as much as you want stems not from them but from you. In a way you create fake versions of the people you want to get response from that drain away your energy. You are making your own dementors at that point.
Don’t over-rationalise, Ignorance is Bliss
Rationalizing however is a double edge sword. Because of how easy it is for us to monitor stats. For example I know fairly well what my normal view to like ratios are (around 50 to 75%). My Star Trek post for example only got 10 likes which is well below my average, but it also got way less views. While my anime review got pretty much my normal rate of likes but way more views and the ratio is off.
This ALSO doesn’t mean anything. A person could come back to a long post to read it in bits, inflating your views while making your post have a less favorable like/views ratio. I can even more or less tell who is watching me (except if you are from America) based on times and nations. I can more or less see when Irina visits my blog and doesn’t like. I can see when someone likes a post without reading.
This means we end up with a weird situation where we can not think about likes from an emotional stance nor a logical stance because both hold no real value. We aren’t aware of each others thoughts nor are we capable of constantly minding all the factors in play. I read some amazing posts and clicked of without leaving a like.. simply because I had the same sensation I felt when reading a good book. My mind completely with the post and not the social aspect. Sometimes I read a post and I had a craving for a snack or google more info about a post. Wandering off without leaving a like. Sometimes I read a post in a few steps.. messing up someones ratio.. but that’s the way I enjoy reading it. Humans are not a hivemind, we are not in sync.. and for those who accidentally put to much worth into likes, we create a no win scenario, due to the sheer access to data.
Do not think a like is about affection
We need to find a way for likes to mean less to us, but that is hard. Simply because of the word chosen is a key need of basically anyone. Much akin to love, like is a term of affection and that is something we all want or desire. Especially since my take on this in part is to find people to interact with and find community like becomes something greater than it is supposed to be. A dissociation. The online like is a much more sterile concept that is much less meaningful than someone actually telling you “I like that”. That is something we can probably all acknowledge, yet because the computer tells me “Scott likes this” opposed to “Scott Pressed the like Button” its much more difficult for my brain to interpret this correctly.
Let’s get to the elephant in the room here! I know I am not my content, it’s easy to brush worries away under that standard and to some extend that does work……..IF we keep our distance to our work. It’s just a blog, a bunch of text some ramblings. Yet here it is detrimental that we are hobbyists.
We do generally do not post because we need to. We do it because we want to. The stuff we write means something to us, if only for the joy of creating it. Especially when we write something that matters to us. It sucks if an insightful piece gets less likes than a Top 5. It stings when a blogger who just posted some fan art that is not even his or hers while you made a deep essay gets more up votes from mutual followers. It can feel like a betrayal.. but why is that?
The reason is not the others that fail to press a button but the value we have given to this word. Trough YouTube we are constantly reminded about the importance of likes, your tweets have to be hearted. Your Instagram is based on likes! And Arceus forbid if you still use Facebook the social pressure of likes there! We gave become so dependent on them, that they are like a drug. We need them as our high.. our validation and when starved of them we will feel like utter trash. That is because we have been brainwashed by social media to think it’s as important as actual likes.. Thusly we connect it to affection while we should not. Yet how can we not when each video we like nowadays asks for likes and everywhere we look this stuff becomes important. For us at least this is not helped by the absence of a dislike button. Because we can’t see dislike as the opposite to a like, not liking becomes the de facto opposite.
To prove this point, try imagining going to a random blogger you follow but do not particularly care about and tell them “I do not like you” how many of you think that is neutral? I bet it is not a lot of you. Our brains are wired in that way..so when my brain picks up.. oh Mallow did not like this post.. that voice in your head makes that very same dialogue tangible. We were raised with fairy tale mannerisms in mind but our rule-set changed. We can’t all simply adapt and let go of what we knew. This causes a hyper importance on like because it has become a popular commodity one one hand and the lack off likes is interpreted as the opposite. In doing so it becomes a resource I absolutely hate..but one I can’t help but covet.
Highscores and perception shifts
In a way we have turned our own life into classic arcade video games. If you don’t have a highscore you do not matter… or at least that is the lie we tell ourselves. Which is kinda ironic.. we care so much for our highscore in real life.. in the form of getting praise and backpads.. but in video games we hardly ever care for the thing. Yet a like is as insignificant as video game high score when it comes down to it.. it’s a digital display on how well you did. Without it being detrimental or beneficial to the actual content. It simply a very poorly chosen term that seems logical and makes sense but puts enormous social pressure on you once you start to see patterns.
So perhaps by embracing this analogy we can defuse it into just that… that high score.. sure it is neat to put your name on the board but it doesn’t take away from our actual joy of playing the game.
Another way to achieve some inner piece can be achieved to “rebranding” what the word of the virtual Like means to us. Instead of seeing the button as a token of affection thrown your way.. perhaps we can view it as having similarities.. being ALIKE. A simple press of the button wouldn’t be a digital stamp of approval that you need to collect a lot of.. it is a tool to measure if people can vibe with your brain. You can like my Star Trek post.. simply because you enjoy the show and remember it, or because you saw that first episode and had a mindset similar to mine when watching it.. or you can mentally put yourself in my place there.. at that moment we can understand each other and are alike.
There is something fundamentally less painful about being misunderstood than about not being likable. In being yourself and people not being like you, you can attach positive words. I am unique, I am myself I am a pioneer. Heck in the core being creative is about doing something unique.. it would defuse the pressure of the “like” while keeping the general mindset of it intact. People resonating with it. That same type of positivity is much harder to apply when it comes down to not getting affection. No one smiles and says “I am an einzelgänger” with pride. No one is really happy to say “I do not need other people”. So let’s make that shift! Find a way to make the like more harmless!
Do Not Dislike Not Liking
Now just to make this clear, this is not a rant for people not liking things. Because I totally get that, as I tried to make clear throughout the post. While I feel terrible for not liking a post, that again is self imposed social pressure. The larger your blog grows the lesser the chance is you will be there for everyone. The smaller your blog is the more you feel bad about not getting likes, the bigger your blog is the more bad you feel about not giving them. They are both part of the same problem. While monetized blogs or YouTube channels could get indications for if content works or not.. that as hobby bloggers should not be our concern it should be about the joy of content creation…which for the most I do.. just this is a boon waved in your eyes that is friggin hard to ignore.
So just beware that not getting as much likes as you want will always sting, yet they are so meaningless that if you use them as your guide in your blogging journey you WILL get lost. A like is a high-score and the system on how to get them is glitched. At times you will get some for no reason at all, at other times even though you picked up that score item.. it didn’t add up. It happens to the best of games. We should see it more as people resonating with your thoughts .. as opposed to affection for the blogger, which while making perfect logical sense is easily is confused by the brain. At least I think in full sentences and speech and that sometimes my pink heart go owie! The like is a complex little drug, that offers you much safer highs but much more lasting lows. Beware of the like! Let’s make a case for the ALIKE…..also please leave a like!