#oceans apart on the #familyplate
Let’s make this clear before we get started: I like you.
Even so, my fondness for you probably isn’t evidenced via Facebook’s “like” feature, the way it has in the past, now that I’ve largely stopped using it.
A few weeks ago, somebody posted on Facebook that they took a break from clicking the little thumbs-up on all the posts that issued forth from his/her news feed, and it made all the difference in the world. The feed, no longer drunkenly affected by the analytics of the like-clicking, became purer and more representative of the person’s life true relationships and interests. Crime and poverty went down, and animated bluebirds flew into the house through open windows and helped fold the laundry.
I thought, I oughtta try that. So I did. I quit liking your stuff. Mostly. I developed an anti-like stance on clickbait that borders on militancy. I occasionally still give the thumbs up on personal pictures. Your kids’ accomplishments are special to you, and as a dad, I find that sweet. I haven’t seen the crime stats, and no help for the housecleaning has arrived, but Snow White only had seven dwarves, while we have three teens. Nonetheless, I made this little determination that my validation of approval was going to mean a little more than it has in the past, and I’m sticking to it.
Bryan, you’re overthinking this. Probably. Almost certainly. I realize that my “like” doesn’t come with an asterisk* that distinguishes my approval for being different or more selective than yours. Here’s what it has done for me though: it has compelled me to be a better friend, if at the least, virtually. I type more comments than I had in the past, to explain what or why I like your little contribution to the Facebook experience. And in some assessment that is entirely personal and not-at-all scientific, I’ve invested more value in the concept of what I like. I don’t like all things equally, and since I’m not able to articulate the degree to which I like something, I’m more selective about what I like.
It’s been explained to me by my kids that the “like” only communicates that you are acknowledging to the poster that you have seen the post. But it is more than that. It’s a statement of validation, of agreement. It’s an approval. In some ways, it’s a little self-serving Pavlovian trigger that re-affirms your own sense of self-importance every time you click it. I find myself musing that it doesn’t really matter if I like it. Who am I, the self-appointed LikeMeister? It’s not like I’m Oprah, giving away “likes” like she hands out free cars:
As a recipient, though, I definitely think getting your approval has mattered to me. I’ve looked back over the past few years and discovered I’m writing less than I ever have, despite posting as frequently as ever. I like getting likes from you. When I see the little red indicator of numeric activity responding to something I’ve posted, I feel like Sally Field on Oscar Night:
Posting is easy, writing well is not (and I’m admitting that as a guy who has trashed more than half my own blog post history with SMH incredulity wondering how Editor Bryan ever allowed Writer Bryan publish content that never should have been exposed to a computer monitor other than my own). Similarly, I want my own “liking” to be less cheap than I have made it since the advent of social media, whether it be Facebook’s LIke, Instagram’s Heart, Twitter’s Favorite, Tumblr’s Reblog, or BuzzFeed’s Buzzworthy**. I want it to mean more than a split-second decision that trivializes the notion that I appreciate you and your voice’s contribution to this confusing conversation we share in the virtual world.
It won’t be easy. It’s totally quixotic.*** I’ll probably relapse, because even I can’t resist a good cat video. But be patient with me. I’m a work in progress. And as such, I’m not going to refuse your affirming me along the way:
*asterisk - it is a pet peeve of mine when people pronounce this “asterik,” or “Rick Astley.”
**I may have made up one or more of these terms to illustrate my point.
***quixotic - perhaps my most favorite adjective of all time, for want of tilting at windmills.
#monsoon from #Norbert is rushing through the @scottsdalebible parking lot. Stay safe. Find #alternateroute for your destinations.