A few weeks back, I read an interesting article by someone who had stopped clicking the Like button on Facebook. Her thinking was that Facebook tries to suggest Likeable feed to her, based on an algorthim calculated from what she’s Liked, and since she didn’t like that (no pun intended) she wanted to get off the ride. As time went on, she found that Facebook a) stopped twisting her news feed to advertise topics similar to what she was Liking, and b) became more conversational.
“Now that I am commenting more on Facebook and not clicking Like on anything at all, my feed has relaxed and become more conversational. It’s like all the shouty attention-getters were ushered out of the room as soon as I stopped incidentally asking for those kinds of updates by using the Like function.”
I decided to try it out for myself, not because of the algorithm-calculating theory, but reason b – becoming more conversational. For an temporarily-permanent period, I chose to stop clicking Like and instead, either comment or do nothing. What happened really surprised me!
At first, it was so hard to stop clicking Like. My mouse subconsciously hovered over the button, and I caught myself clicking Like without realising it! When that happened, I – half-guiltily, because it looked wrong – had to go back and Unlike it!
With Like out of the way, I turned to commenting to communicate with the big wide world. I was amazed at how Facebook suddenly changed for me. For a long time, Facebook had been something I did to zone out. I would sit slumped over my laptop and scroll – Like – scroll – Like – scroll – comment – scroll – Like. It was a smothering addiction; except for the benefit of just chilling out, it wasn’t very productive, but my craving to ‘not miss out’ on what my friends were doing (a semi-valid reason) and the memes my sibling laughed at (an even smaller semi-reason), was and is strong. Now, with the Like button out of the picture, I had to either ignore everything – boring and rude – or engage.
So I started to engage, and I found myself slowing down enough to ask not-very-close friends how things went after they announced they were going to do something. When their post reminded me of a similar story, I shared it. I asked questions that asked them to explain their thinking or tell me something more about themselves. I listened to words of wisdom, I commented how something made me feel, and I actually read and dipped my foot into thought-provoking quotes and opinions.
I loved it. So much so, that it became a problem!
Now I didn’t want to log onto Facebook because it was a no-brainer activity; now, I wanted to log on to Facebook because it was an online party! Now that I commented, people replied, more entered the conversation, and people clicked Like to my comments. When I logged onto Facebook, there was often 18 + notifications awaiting me, a complete change to the 10-notifications-if-you’re-lucky norm.
It’s been several weeks since I stopped clicking Like, and I think I’ve come away with three lessons I’ve learned from it.
I don’t have to please everyone on Facebook.
I’ll be honest: I judge how good my post was based on how many people clicked Like. If I apply the Golden Rule here, then it’s only polite to click Like for every selfie, update, and share that I found half-funny. Truth be told, however – it’s my life. I don’t have to go around pleasing people or feeling as if I’m a bad friend if I don’t click Like. There are other, probably more productive, ways to be a good, rubber-meets-the-road friend, even on Facebook, rather than humouring them all the time. I need to think for myself what I actually value and appreciate, rather than blindly trying to approve of everyone else. Sure, clicking Like is like nodding in a conversation, recognising that you heard them, and there definitely is some merit in that, but I think we can overanalyse, compare, and accept ourselves with the Like button too much.
It doesn’t excuse misusing my time.
Just because I’m having much more fun now and it’s less of a waste of time, it doesn’t mean I have the freedom to check Facebook every hour! Instead; Live. Feel. Think. Work. Enjoy. Engage IRL (see what I did there?!) Stop looking over your shoulder at how awesome everyone else’s life is. In the words of my Mum when I would completely lose my temper as a kid, “My goodness, child! Get some self-control!” Alternatively, you could use Edna Mode as motivation to stay off Facebook:
*I didn’t find this on Facebook. I saw it on Pinterest. There’s a difference.
I’m not out of the woods yet
Old habits are harder to break than I originally thought! I’m still not using the Like button, but now that the novelty of commenting instead of Liking has worn off, I am reverting to piddly little comments such as, ‘LIKE!’, ‘love.’, ‘this.’, ‘<3’, ‘:)’, or ‘haha’. ’Nuff said.
I don’t know if I will stay off the Like button forever; I’m tempted both ways. The experiment has shown me how fun and engaging Facebook can be, but it hasn’t curbed my addiction to Facebook. I am getting to know people more, but I’m still learning to scroll past some posts and not do anything with them. I still have to show self-control in my time management, but overall, I think it made me rethink Facebook, and it was definitely worth doing!