Lately there have been arguments for and against the like button on Facebook. Mat Honan decided that all he would do is press the like button in I Liked Everything on Facebook, Here’s What it Did To Me. And after several days of doing so the algorithms had changed his newsfeed into nothing but advertising. Advertising that he didn’t request. Dun, dun, dun!
Then shortly thereafter Elan “Schmutzie” Morgan said, “Oh, yeah? Well, I’m just not gonna use it (for two weeks)!”
In I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity we get “a hopeful look at what happens when you quit the Like”. His conclusion: he felt more connected and possibly started some debates.
We needed someone to identify these extreme ends of the spectrum to understand online social graces. For if we didn’t have these two practices separated and broken down into their simple tasks, we wouldn’t know how they worked together.
At the end of the day, liking someone’s picture or meme or status is not a bad thing. It won’t make a dead dog pop up on your newsfeed, a grim reminder that this is still the Internet and these things still exist. But leaving a comment every now and then is more meaningful. Trust me, there are times when I, in my own experiment of only doing the comment-thing, could think of nothing but empty platitudes when I struggled to connect with a newsfeed item that I merely liked and didn’t feel necessary to comment on.
Perhaps this is why the like button was created in the first place.
So when should you use the comment feature?
When your mom figures out a way to upload photographs to Facebook with her new smartphone.
When your friend is showing you how awesome what they’re about to eat looks like. Only if you like it though. Don’t be mean when it looks kind of weird. Just go to wtffoodporn.tumblr.com and get your schadenfreude out there.
When someone you’ve had on your feed just announces an engagement, pregnancy, wedding, birthday, mitzvah, whatever. This one’s kind of at your discretion since you’re the one who decides what is a happy occasion and what is not.
At the end of the day, sometimes all you need is the like button. Sometimes you need more. It’s your judgement call. Don’t let anyone dictate to you what you should and shouldn’t do online, but keep in mind that living your life on the extreme ends of the spectrum may teach you a few lessons, but it won’t solve all your problems.