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?