Like a lot of people in the world nowadays, I have been hooked on Facebook and Twitter for many years. I can catch up on the news on these sites much quicker than on the radio, newspapers and TV, and I can do it on the fly. Social Networking Sites (SNS) have given us a platform for communicating with one another, keeping tabs on celebrities, sports and current events, whilst allowing us to voice our opinions about anything and everything. Facebook also allows us to post a ‘status’- a group of words that may describe what we are doing (have done or will do), what our moods are like, what we are eating, and basically anything that we want to write. Facebook also allows us to post pictures, inform our ‘friends’ about our current location and ‘tag’ people who are with us or wish that are with us at any particular time. Twitter functions in a similar way, in which it allows us to connect with people, ‘tweet’ a picture and/ or a statement (limited to 180 characters) much like a Facebook status. Both Facebook and Twitter allow us to share (or Retweet on Twitter) anything that another person has posted. We can also ‘reply’ or ‘comment’ on their statuses and/ or tweets if we like, and start a discussion about any topics.
What grabbed my curiousity though is the ‘Like’ button in Facebook and the ‘Favourite’ button on Twitter. One may assume that this is to alert the person that posted a Tweet/photo/status/location/etc. that you ‘like’ their post or their tweets are one of your ‘favourites’. But is that all there is to it? Why else would such functions exist? Let me take a few guesses.
- To Save Time– I often ask myself, ‘Why can’t we just reply or comment that we ‘like’ what they have posted?’ Facebook and Twitter might have assumed that we are all incredibly busy and that we don’t have any time to type that clicking on a button should be enough. In addition, SNS bosses might have assumed that we don’t have time to read people’s comments about how much they liked our posts, and therefore notifications of how many ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’ our posts have should be enough.
- It Feels Good to be Liked– The words ‘like’ and ‘favourite’ are positive words that denote approval from other people. Knowing that somebody ‘liked’ or ‘favourited’ your post shows that people not only took notice of your post and read it, but they also took a few seconds of their precious time to click a button (they must really approve of what you posted, right?).
- Popularity– Having so many people ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ your post could mean that you are gaining popularity. However, arriving at this conclusion may lead to disappointment as it is not always the case.
I am still puzzled everytime somebody ‘likes’ or ‘favourites’ my posts on Facebook or Twitter mainly because there are many different reasons why people click these buttons. Although I must admit that I do not ponder on every single ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ that I receive, but whenever I post something that is very close to my heart (for instance, Autism, Special Education and Psychology), I querry on the reason why a person clicked ‘like’ or ‘favourite’. On the flip-side, I am also careful whenever I click these buttons as I don’t want to send the wrong signal.
I urge you to think carefully before clicking ‘like’ and ‘favourite’. Here’s why :
- Ambiguity – As I’ve said, the act of clicking these buttons mean differently to people. They may truly agree with what you have said, they might have ‘favourited’ your tweet to remind them that they need to come back and read it later, or they may simply have ‘liked’ or ‘favourited’ your post to politely say that ‘I have seen your post, but I don’t really like it‘.
- A ‘like’/ ‘favourite’ is not the same as approval- I know that this goes against the definitions of the words (and against number 3 on this list) but as mentioned, they mean differently to people.
- It does not improve the integrity of your statement- Having a popular oppinion does not mean that what you have said/ done is right. However, some people may hold this idea and therefore, we should be careful before we ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ a stupid/ offensive post.
- Your name will be associated with the post– This is probably the most important thing to consider before pressing these buttons. Whether you are ‘liking’ or ‘favouriting’ a joke, a political/ philosophical statement, an expression of emotion or anything at all, be aware that your name will be associated with it and everyone will see it. We all know a news story or two about people who have lost their jobs and/ or loved ones because of SNS activities. ‘Liking’ or ‘Favouriting’ something may not be the same as actually posting it, but it shows that you approve of the post.
Remember: THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK!