Like This!: The Liking of the Liking of Liking

I just liked a new Facebook page called, “Liking.” I liked it before I liked it and I still like it. You should like it too. Why not?

The “Like” button on Facebook has changed the verb. Before Facebook, “like” was a positive emotion one felt towards a person or object, but now “liking” means pressing a button. Doing so means you like something in the traditional sense, so the like button refers back to the furry and friendly emotion. The button hasn’t replaced the feeling, so there is no reason not to like it.

However, the new use of the verb does cause linguistic confusion.  For example, one of my friends recently asked me if I liked his new profile photo. I said, “Yes, I like it.” “But did you like it?” “No, but I will like it.” He looked at me skeptically. “If you really liked it, you would have liked it.”

Across our screens stream hundreds of thousands of millions of symbols, words, statements, pictures, websites, advertisements, songs, TV shows and movies. In the midst of this torrent of information, liking something is a way of showing that you like it a little more than all the rest of stuff out there.

Best of all, it isn’t very hard to do. You can like something without going to the effort of responding, commenting or thanking those who have produced the content. All you have to do is press a button and . . . you like it! Most of those producing content online don’t get paid, so liking something is a way of showing your appreciation.

Although liking something is nearly free (you do have to use up a bit of energy to push the button), people tend to hoard their likes and disperse them sparingly. I understand why. Whenever something valuable becomes common, it gets devalued. If you found a magical kettle which produced an endless supply of diamonds, you would want to release them into the market gradually (like the diamond companies do). Tight control ensures that diamonds retain their rare and valuable status.

But if you liked diamonds because they were pretty, rather than valuable, you might think that everyone should have a handful or two from your bottomless kettle of diamonds. If you didn’t care about what they were worth, maybe you would scatter them about. Although diamonds on every t-shirt and tennis shoe would devalue the stone, the prevalence of the diamond on our belts and glasses would make the world a lot more sparkly. So why not?

The economic value of liking may fall with overuse, but wouldn’t it make the world prettier? I am a person who likes most things. I like life. I like art. I like movies. I like people. I like books. I like history. I like food. I like drinking. I like science. I like writing. I like Star Wars. I like Star Trek. I like cats. I like dogs. I like The Beatles. I like The Rolling Stones. And I like Gertrude Stein who liked repetitive phrases like “A rose is a rose is a rose.”

I dislike war. I dislike prejudice. I dislike people who talk and talk about the things they dislike. But on Facebook, I cannot dislike anything. I can “unlike” something, take away my approval, but I can’t dislike it.

So, I like liking, and since I like liking, I liked the Facebook page “Liking.” Since I am writing about the liking of liking, this post is the liking of the liking of liking. If you like it–and why shouldn’t you?–you will be liking the liking of the liking of liking. And doesn’t that make the world a little sweeter?

5 thoughts on “Like This!: The Liking of the Liking of Liking”

  1. hoarders of ‘likes’ confuse me as do those who think that we must keep the value of a ‘like’ at a premium high to ensure that it actually ‘means’ something. i suspect hoarders and their ilk to be just applying capitalistic mentalities to the simple act of a button click.

    perhaps we should return to the days when conservations about ‘like’ were more visceral and simple. here’s an example i recently was privy to while riding the 22 bus line in San Francisco:

    Girl w/Pigtails: “I heard Mikey ‘liked’ you from Shawna.”
    Girl w/Hello Kitty Backpack: “You mean, ‘LIKE’ like or just(in a drawn out trail of sounds) l~i~k~e?”
    Girl w/Pigtails: “L~I~K~E~S YOU!”
    Girl w/Hello Kitty Backpack: “Gah-ROSS! Let’s beat him up!”

  2. check out jonathan flatley’s newest book, i think it is out now, it’s called “like” – he is awesome…

  3. Glad you noticed Liking Like.
    Honestly, I wish there was more of a story behind me creating the page beyond this: I was up late one night & realized I liked liking & a lot of other people must to, considering Facebook’s most common activity, &, after searching a bit, I found there wasn’t really a Facebook page for Liking Like, so I made one.
    The End.
    i like this blog post!

  4. Received this email:

    Hey Ron

    Hope you’re doing well. I just read your article: Like This!: The liking of the liking of liking

    And I have to admit that I like it very much 🙂 Just wanted to let you know that.

    Have a great day.

    Simone

    Thanks, Simone! I like your response too.

  5. More interesting linguistically (I think) than the new verb meanings of “like” is the adaptation of “like” into a noun. We can count and quantify “likes,” tracking their numbers as a measure of popularity or market reach.

    “Likes” has been added to “hits,” “retweets,” “clickthroughs,” and “eyeballs” as an important metric in web marketing.

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