Do You Like “Like” on Facebook and in Life?

My mouse hovers and hesitates. How can I “like” a Facebook post that is sad or tragic or pointing out an injustice? Maybe I should “comment,” but if I do, I’ll have to read comments from people I don’t know. Still, does “like” capture what I really want to say?

Then there’s the reverse phenomenon. I put a link on my Facebook page to a blog I’ve written and check back the next day hoping to see “likes.” But how on earth is “like” the appropriate response to a post entitled, For Donna, Sammy, Kaelan, and Other Children Lost Too Soon to Childhood Cancer?

Cartoon by Marcia Liss

Cartoon by Marcia Liss

While we’re at it, how about the request at the bottom of every post, like me on Facebook? Is this what I really want? Maybe it would be better if I could say, “Read my stuff on Facebook, but like me in person (if you know me and if you actually like me).”

As a blogger, I sometimes I feel like Sally Fields, whose 1985 best actress (Places in the Heart) award speech included the infamous line, "You like me, right now, you like me!" What is it about being liked and liking stuff that Mark Zuckerberg seized upon in creating Facebook? Do I really care if someone I don’t know likes me (or what I wrote)? Apparently, I do.

The “like” thing is strange in life as well.

How many times did I tell my children growing up, I don’t like what you did (or the even more awful, I don’t like you right now), but I always love you? What’s that supposed to mean to a kid? When you’re four, like and love are somewhat synonymous, and adults can’t really sugar coat disapproval. Children have special radar detectors for anger in the adults they like/love.

How many times did I worry as a preschool director that a parent didn’t like me? How often did I fret as a kid that a teacher didn’t like me? How worried am I right now that you don’t like me?

So yes, we all crave those “likes,” both on our Facebook pages and in our lives. If we are honest, we want our friends to “like” our photos of vacations or pets or kids’ birthday parties. Lots of “likes” on a picture of our new baby makes us smile. It’s just human nature, I guess, that as social beings, we care about other’s opinions of us and of the things we value.

I just wish sometimes there were simple responses beyond “like.” Here are some buttons I wish were also on Facebook and in our lives:

I’m sorry.

I hear you.

Thanks for sharing.

How can I help?

I love you.

Any more buttons you would like to add?

Below is pretty ironic in light of my post!

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