But what if they don’t “like” it?


From The New York Times about our addiction to being “liked” on social media:

Walking through an airport newsstand this year, I noticed a novelty. The covers of Inc., Fast Company and Time all had female executives on the covers: Sara Blakely, Angela Ahrendts and Janet L. Yellen. I quickly snapped a photo and sent out a tweet to my modest list of followers: “Women on the cover. Not just for girlie magazines anymore.”

Then I waited for the love. I checked the response before passing through security. Nothing. I glanced again while waiting for the plane. Still nothing. I looked again before we took off. Nobody cared. My little attempt to pass a lonely hour in an airport with some friendly interaction had turned into the opposite: a brutal cold shower of social isolation.

A few days later, I mentioned this story to my wife. “What a great tweet!” she said. She then retweeted it to her larger list of followers. Within seconds, it scored. Some Twitter bigwigs picked it up, and soon hundreds of people had passed it along, added their approval and otherwise joined in a virtual bra burning. Though I should be above such things, my wisp of loneliness was soon replaced with a gust of self-satisfaction. Look, I started a meme!

We are deep enough into the social-media era to begin to recognize certain patterns among its users. Foremost among them is a mass anxiety of approval seeking and popularity tracking that seems far more suited to a high school prom than a high-functioning society.

It’s interesting where this stuff ends up — one talented young photographer, a friend of ours working in Chicago (who has not even finished college) — was recently offered a full-time staff job by a major newspaper after editors kept seeing his excellent work on Instagram.

Here is his astonishing collection of photos of a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans in a recent New York Times travel section. Go, Alex!

Do you care if people “like” your posts on Instagram or Reddit or Facebook or Pinterest?

Do you get re-tweeted?

Or does “real life” still matter more (or as much) as approval on social media?

25 thoughts on “But what if they don’t “like” it?

  1. I think everyone likes acceptance, whether in forms of retweets, likes, shares and mentions. I tend to believe it’s all about the connections in life, but then again to your point what is real and meaningful, is it if in social media?

  2. i really do write for the love of it, and because i love to tell stories and share thoughts, but i do get a positive feeling from the interaction of readers, the give and take, makes it all human.

  3. Gee… I have enough social media with WordPress and Facebook… I don’t care to add yet another one… I like human interaction instead of constantly looking at my phone, IPad, or laptop…

    1. Me, too! Thanks for commenting…

      I am now being careful to sked in at least two face-to-face lengthy meetings/lunches/dates with friends each week to counter-balance this. I hate the brevity and shallowness that much of social media imposes.

  4. I care but it doesn’t ruin my day if no one likes a post. I’m more curious than anything why some posts resonate more than others. For instance, my post on concrete poetry is always getting views–why? It’s curious to me.
    I don’t Pin, Tweet, Red, or Face. I do Stumble from time to time. Not not hours in the day to do it all!

    1. So true!

      The two posts here that get daily traffic — for years! — are on boarding school and how women can travel safely alone. My guess as to why yours gets so many? (Having no idea what concrete poetry is [sorry!]) There might be very few others and so people keep finding yours as one of the top search terms…That’s my assumption about the boarding school post. I assume most such posts are rah-rah-choose-our-school ads and people want to know what it’s really like to attend boarding school….which I describe.

      I started tweeting about a month ago and alternate between 5-10/day if really into it or none for a few days or a week because I have very few followers, so that’s not working. 🙂 I do get some very useful job/work tips and links from others’ tweets, so it has value for me there. But all of it is a massive time-suck, for sure. What’s the ROI?

      Facebook is just fun — and with friends wordlwide, the best way to keep up with them.

  5. Actually, I don’t give a hoot about the opinion of someone I have never met. The most important relationships to me are with my good neighbors and old friends. I visit your blog and a very few others because you have some good thought-provoking content and I do enjoy making a comment at times but I would be amused if someone declared that I was a blooming idiot. This was another one of your good posts. Thank you.

    1. Thanks!

      I tend to care most about people’s opinions when it comes to paid work or, as you say, friendship. After that…approval is certainly pleasant and I really enjoy the conversations we have here. But a “like” is too passive and doesn’t engage me/us, even if I am glad to earn it.

  6. It’s fun to be retweeted or liked. I have been lucky that the first article I wrote for an archery magazine has been picked up in the archery forums and is a constant source of hits to my blog. If our purpose for being on social media is to create a fan base, then we are kidding ourselves if we say it does not matter. The important people in our lives like us regardless of whether or not we tweet or post.

    1. Hey, good to hear from you again!

      I agree…of course it’s pleasant. It also speaks to the various goals we all have for our blogs and tweets. I don’t especially want a fan base, but enjoy (when possible) stimulating conversation among interesting people. But I’d rather have a convo than a pile ‘o silent likes.

  7. One of the bloggers I follow posts periodically on how readers use search terms to encounter her blog. I began checking my information and realized that many more readers encounter blogs than probably care to leave a like or comment, and the posts most consistently viewed on my blog were ones that had few readers/likers/commenters. It certainly has given me another perspective on the questions people have about their world when they are actively seeking specific information.

  8. I used to care but have become enlightened to the fact that people suck. I don’t understand people who blog just to blog, that’s called a journal. I use my blog to collect the articles I submit for my column at a humble Philadelphia paper that pays me and I have 2 followers! WTF? My plan is to take my articles and poems eventually, find a common thread and publish via Nora Ephron / David Sedaris. Can someone get me a Dave Barry gig? I’m in the middle Os a screenplay so “I’m not consistently posting” the key to success. You know what I’ve noticed people with followings are t even writing! They spit out, yes for to five times a week, 300 word post with a photo. Meanwhile I’m blogging 1000 words. That’s the problem. My articles are to long but to completely express the stupidity of each article 300 words won’t do. Ranting on, I’m pissed to here about whoever got the gig off of Instagram? Are you kidding me? I’m busy writing, or living. I am a single working mom on welfare hustling all the time at 47 years of age. I’ve know privilege and poverty. I’ve lived, traveled and studied. That equal substance in my world. I just narrowed it down to five blogs I’ll read. Yours being one because your legit. If people want to swap inspirational sayings someone else wrote, then here’s your platform. Yea, you hit a nerve. That’s why I’m 1Realgirlwriter.com. I keep it real. Hey. Dumb emoticon, check out my blog and Facebook!!! My time is precious. Like I said, top five only! XOXO

  9. miscmarsha

    I think the whole “selfies” trend really sums up what social media (or should I say MEdia) has become – a mirror. There’s very few interaction. It’s mostly self-promotion. Since I’m not really looking to sell anyone anything, I don’t put much value into it. I’d rather have real-life validation.

  10. Wow. So many pts. of entry for discussion here. Yes, I think it highlights our less-than-secure inner high-school selves. I also think the opp for group-think bullying happens far too often. I remember posting a comment on an article linking science and faith, expressing my agreement–and a hoard of unemployed atheists came at me like bees to a bouquet. I can only assume they were unemployed b/c the barrage lasted for over 24 hours. Online communities allow us to put ourselves out there–the issue is, if that community was a pub and we looked in the window–would we enter? We’re not always swimming amongst the most savvy peeps . . .

    1. All true!

      One of the elemental issues is trust…and even if our friends don’t “like” every little scrap we throw onto social media sites, we know they love us IRL. The frenzy to please strangers is just bizarre to me. But so is the attack of the weirdos.

      I experienced a shitstorm of such unrelenting velocity and intensity over at Open Salon a few years ago I actually went to the local police after being personally threatened by a fellow blogger there; I haven’t been back since. I worry far less about being “liked” by people I don’t even know than being slagged by them. It’s exhausting and just plain creepy.

  11. I find truth in the idea of mass anxiety sometimes being a result of the social media hype. Personally I haven’t been the most popular sharer on Facebook but I feel flattered when I get any kind of response from friends or visitors. The down side is having to deal with negative reactions, or worse, being ignored. I guess the fact that people get to interact with one another more frequently than they would away from the computer screen has set the bar higher for social acceptance. I don’t know if I should think of it as a trend or an obvious evolution of society. Either way, social media has given a new definition to the way we interact and its effects.

    P.S. I really appreciate this post. Thanks for sharing it.

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