Don’t Like This
It started with one or two requests for likes per month. It never bothered me. My eye either passed over them, or sometimes I paused and read/looked even if I never also hit “like.” It was a part of Facebook, a small part of Facebook, and usually, the person posting it had some connection to the person/situation in the image. I could roll with it.
Then it became one or two a week, and that was still do-able. I mean, I’m on Facebook in order to stay in touch with people and feel part of their day-to-day world even though we live far apart. But that’s not why other people are on Facebook, and I can roll with that too. Some people like to use Facebook to play games or win contests or pass along all the memes they used to pass along via email but got yelled at by their friends for passing along the memes there. So just want to make this clear: it did not bother me even when the request for likes were coming once a week. Because, you know, small drop in the Facebook ocean.
But by now, my Facebook stream is clogged — CLOGGED — with requests for Facebook likes to the point where I could not tell you one thing happening in my friend’s lives today, but I can tell you that they believe a random stranger should clean his house, a random child is beautiful, and a random woman with breast cancer needs to know that a bunch of strangers support her. CLOGGED. As in, I just opened Facebook and the last six updates out of 10 were all memes requesting that the viewer not only like something random, but people have stepped up their game, and now if you don’t like it, you are told that you are a cold, heartless asshole.
I own it. I am a cold, heartless asshole.
The stories themselves have changed. Months ago, they were usually health or emotionally-related. There was a cutter whom I was told to like to know there were people out there who cared. And there was a child with this disease or that who wanted to feel buoyed by the world by seeing those likes pile up. And those I could possibly understand. Those were explainable, why people were playing along. BUT I’m sorry, I find the children-wanting-a-dog, man-will-only-do-household-chores, boy-will-propose-to-girl if I get a million likes memes not only annoying in their intrusion in my life (seriously, just do your fucking household chores: do you honestly believe you’re the only person out there who has to pull out the Clorox bleach?) but actually more than a little disturbing.
There is one where a little girl is holding up a sign that says: “Hello Facebook! My mom agreed to give up smoking only if I could get 1 million likes.” ONLY? I’m going out on a limb and assuming the mother didn’t really say this because who the hell crowdsources medical decisions? And what is the next step from here? My father beats me, but he’ll only stop if I get 1 million likes. My daughter cuts herself, but she’ll only stop if I get 1 million likes.
There are all the ones that ask me to tell someone they’re beautiful. People I don’t know. People that I am trying not to objectify and reduce to a single adjective because — did I mention?– I don’t know them. Beauty is so much more than a still photograph. Tell me a little bit about the person you’re asking me to “like” and give them external validation that they’re pretty. I mean, asking me to tell someone I know nothing about if they’re pretty is like asking me to tell you if I like something you’ve cooked while you withhold my sense of smell. Just as taste requires more senses in order to earn its superlatives, so does simple things such as determining beauty*. Unless the point is to make us as shallow as possible and not bring into consideration any characteristics or actions in determining beauty.
Can we all go back to that sweet time when the only thing we had to complain about Facebook were obnoxious politically-minded status updates, game-related requests, in-depth descriptions of everything a person ate in a day, and Stepford-like rewritings of people’s lives in order to project feigned joy?
You know, the good old days.**
Can we stop with the requests for external validation — either for ourselves or for others? Can we make sure that we do enough for the people in our lives so they know that they’re loved and don’t need to ask strangers for that missing attention? Can we make sure that every individual hears some compliments about themselves so they’re not chasing them from random people on the Internet? Can we ask everyone who has requested something like this to turn around and ensure that others in their lives are feeling loved since if they’re feeling a deficiency, surely others are too.
If the problem we’re seeing is that people aren’t getting enough love, respect, attention, or compliments from their face-to-face world, one solution would be to address those needs with quality rather than quantity. Humans are telling us in no uncertain terms that they are missing something from their lives and they’re trying to fill that void with computer mouse clicks. Can’t we stave off the problem with a dose of vitamin… U?
I’m not just being facetious. I really think these quests for one million likes*** are indicative of a deeper problem. That there are people who crave attention and they’re not getting it. Or they are getting it small scale, but they’ve been taught to aim for Super-Sized attention with their Super-Sized fries.
And either option is a problem.
P.S. You don’t need to tell me because I already know how crotchety I sound; like an elderly neighbour telling the damn kids to stay off her lawn! Facebook like requests, stay out of my damn Facebook feed! I also feel the need to apologize to everyone who has hit like and filled my Facebook feed these past few months: you are not really the problem. The fact these memes exist at all is the problem.
* Now, if you want me to say whether a photograph in and of itself is pretty, I can judge its artistic form. But that has nothing to do with the subject within.
** Truly, I didn’t think this was comment-worthy until I opened up Facebook just now and saw less about the individuals in my feed and more about random strangers. I know others hit their wall with this much earlier than I did. And others aren’t bothered by it at all, hence why they keep hitting like.
*** Am I the only person with a husband who says every time he sees one: “A million likes isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? A billion likes.”