Honestly, I had grown to loathe Facebook over the last few years, and I knew exactly why. The like button had become an easy way to acknowledge people without actually having to interact. People no longer had to comment on your posts or really interact with you at all. This was a HUGE downfall to a social media platform for me. I wanted to interact with people. I wanted to have conversations that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to have in person especially considering I had moved 2000+ miles from most of my friends. How would I solve this problem? I solved it when I stopped liking stuff on Facebook. I don’t know that anyone noticed I was doing it, but I do know that I easily fell in love with Facebook again.
It all started when I read this article. Could I really get a better newsfeed by not giving Facebook the satisfaction of using the like button? The truth is I didn’t notice a huge difference in the content that was coming to my newsfeed. I think in order to notice a difference there I’d have to change the entire makeup of who I’m friends with on Facebook. I don’t want to do that. I’m not logging into Facebook to see people who think just like me all the time. I’m logging into Facebook in order to see real people who are my friends and they are sometimes very different from me. What I didn’t want from the social media platform was for it to not be social, and I feel like this is exactly what happened when we all just started clicking the like button.
I quit liking things on Facebook over a year ago now. What do I do instead? I comment. I comment even on the most mundane posts to acknowledge that I saw them. If you post a cute picture of your kid, I comment on it instead of hitting the thumbs up. This opens up the way for conversation. I’ll admit that it’s not always easy to come up with something to say that is going to create a response, but I’m working on this as well. I believe I may have found a few ways to do this after reading The End of Small Talk, and I’m excited to try out these techniques on social media as well as in person.
I don’t just comment on the mundane posts. I’ve engaged many of my friends in political debate as well. I have a degree in political science, and I’ll admit that I always enjoy a good political debate. Good political debate though has to have both sides knowing that you don’t hate each other based on your opinions. Opinions rarely change, but I think it’s important to know both sides. Facebook allows us to share articles with the masses and learn from the other side in some way. As far as I can tell, I have yet to lose a Facebook friend over it. The conversations are always meaningful and I leave knowing something about my friend or their side of the argument that I didn’t know before. It has been beautiful.
What have I learned after I stopped liking things on Facebook?
I have learned that if you engage people they will interact with you. I have found that you can get the interaction you want from any social media site, because you get out of it what you put in it. I learned that people want to talk to each other about their beliefs. Of course, I have also learned that sometimes you can’t fix people and their love for believing click bait, because they are like a fish to a worm. It’s also possible that they are just gullible.
I challenge you to stop using the like button so much for yourselves and see what you learn about your friends.