Reality Check: Remember This The Next Time You Hit ‘Like’ On Social Media

Bianca Hofman
Bianca Hofman is a Dutch ultrashort-story writer, based in Barcelona, Spain. She writes super short stories about dating, culture and career. But who is Morris? Morris is Bianca’s imaginary muse, her yin, her alter ego, whatever you want to call him. "Y" means "And" in Spanish, in case you didn’t know. Yes, Bianca&Morris. Bianca has a passionate relationship with the city she lives in. Together with her sister she founded Barcelona Hofman, a flash fiction collaboration. The sisters launched Barcelona Hofman, May 2016, with an exposition during the open art gallery weekend in Barcelona. Facebook: Instagram: Twitter: @biancaymorris and @Bianca_Hofman

How many heart and thumbs up icons have you given this morning, before you even brushed your teeth? How many people “liked” your posts? Or better yet, how many times have you opened your Instagram app to see who has?

We like a lot on social media. It can be a positive thing, but we shouldn’t overestimate the value of hitting the “like” button.

One morning I found myself “liking” one of my friend’s post, without even checking out what it was. My brain seemed to send an I-like-you-so-I-like-your-post–signal to my index finger, and, before having a closer look, my heart was there. Oops.

Okay, giving someone a virtual thumbs up without thinking is not the worst thing you can do to a human being. It made me wonder how much we really  value virtual hearts and thumbs up.

It feels great when people like what we do. It can motivate us to continue sharing our work, accomplishments, or whatever it is we’re doing. “Liking” on social media is a way to show support.

However, the lack of approval on posts can also make you insecure, doubt the things you do, even keep you from sharing your stuff and the things you like, or make you overthink certain posts.

Of course, we all, hopefully, know that the number of “likes” doesn’t necessarily say something about quality. It’s easy to fall in the trap of overestimating the value of other people’s approval when we put ourselves out there.

To avoid getting stuck in the trap, it is good to question the importance of the hearts and thumbs. Is a “like” still that important when it comes from a person who only clicks your post because he or she wants more followers, from a fake account or a vague friend who likes every single post without really looking at it?

To be honest, I don’t know.

Imagine someone loves what you are doing, but for some reason he or she doesn’t show it by liking your post (you might have more secret fans than you are aware of).

We also shouldn’t confuse “liking” with caring. “Likes” can help create awareness for a good cause, but liking a post about cancer research is not the same as donating money for research or working as a volunteer to raise money.

So, let’s keep on embracing our little heart and thumbs up icons, but don’t forget there are also other ways to support. Tell that friend over coffee you love her photography. Buy an illustration of that artist you found on Instagram. Do some voluntary work instead of leaving hearts under articles about good causes.
Try to keep it real. Hit “like” because you really do like something, not because you want to be liked.

Last but not least: like the things you do yourself.