The illusion of the ‘Like’ button

“Like my profile photo for a TBH (to be honest)”

“Like the photo not the link”

“I can’t believe this photo got 100 likes!”

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you? As someone who is an active user of Facebook, I have witnessed that certain phrases such as these have become more widespread since the creation of the ‘like’ button.

At first, it was pretty fun. I didn’t have to go into the hassle of commenting on every status, photo or link that I found interesting. The ‘like’ button was quick, simple and something you could do on the go.

I don’t think the ‘like’ button is bad in itself. However, the problematic thing about it is the sort of unhealthy online behaviours that have become more evident since the creation of the ‘like’ button. A lot of online users on Facebook are quite oblivious to this but it all starts with awareness.

One of the obvious online behaviours that have emerged is viewing the ‘like’ button as a platform for self-approval. Are we guilty of this? Do we only post up photos and statuses to seek attention and approval of others instead of using Facebook as a means of communication and sharing our thoughts and experiences?

It is problematic if our self-worth, human dignity and self-esteem is defined by the amount of ‘likes’ we receive. In the event that we don’t get as many ‘likes’ as we had expected, we immediately assume that we are all of a sudden not beautiful or not worth it.

Users then begin to see this whole ‘like’ phenomenon as an unspoken competition between other users. We begin to see this as an ego boost, which increases our narcissism and the ability to be overly self-conscious with our image. We yearn to seek approval and to be liked by others, even if we don’t really know them personally.

At the end of the day, it is instinctively human to have the desire to feel they are worth something. The reality is that our discovery of self-worth is not defined by a ‘like’ button. Instead, self-worth is something that comes from within. It is the dignity we all possess, the potential we have for greatness and the realisation that beauty is not merely extrinsic but is the intrinsic and unique qualities of a person.

Real acceptance of the human character also cannot be defined by a ‘like’ button. Real acceptance comes from our friendships and family members that respect us and our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

Ultimately, my self-acceptance and self-worth begins with me. It is up to me to discover what made my being is worth it; whether it would be through my ability to make other people laugh or pursuing my career as a journalist to send a positive message to society to make a difference. The ‘like’ of a button could never define this for me.

SO… let’s get the ball rolling. We all possess some sort of self-worth and it is up to US to discover it for ourselves because a ‘like’ button could never define it for us. What do you think makes YOU worth it? It could be a unique and interesting characteristic, a talent or an achievement.

~ Paula Ahillon

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