Likes* are the best

A like button

*Favourites are even better, but that battle was lost a long time ago

The like has a bad reputation. I don’t talk about the modern kind that just works as a shitty repost or to nudge the algorithm. I’m talking about the little button that makes a number go up and that’s it. But exactly that, the unimportance of it all, is what made the like the most wholesome thing on social media.

The debate first started when Mastodon became a thing, but has also spread to tumblr. Mainly because the work like twitter used to. There is no algorithm, that ranks »content« (the ugliest word ever invented) by some arbitrary standard a guy calling himself an effective altruist made up on his way to work. Instead there is a chronological feed and you can like or repost the tweet.

This is how the world should work. It creates an internet that is curated by humans. And not any humans but people who are your friends or that are so cool you would want them to be your friends. But this isn’t a post about algorithms. It’s about the worth of the like button.

The truth is: A like is more than a number goes up. It’s the tip of a hat, a sign of appreciation and yes, a boost of serotonin. It’s also an escape from capitalist exploitation. Because no, the TikTok business influencers aren’t right. You don’t need to build your brand. You are allowed to have fun on the internet. And social media is most fun when it’s happening in your social circle. A like from a friend is worth way more than a repost from some person you never heard of.

Sure, it doesn’t help you to build a large following. But it forms a bond with your friends. You know, the people you actually care about? The ones that drew you to the platform in the first place?

That might not seem enough for you, because the companies taught us over the last couple of years, that the best use of the tools they provide is to run your own little MLM scheme to get more popular online. »Content« needs to be spread, to reach more people.

But we need to realise that this is the goal of the big platforms. They want their product to be sticky, to suck us in deeper and deeper. Creating a nice place to be is only secondary objective. And as a user getting more and more posts from people I don’t follow shoved down my throat is bad. And it actually devalues the individual work.

Because if my friends only repost the truly interesting, insightful or funny stuff they come across, then I will take my time to actually look at it. That’s where the like comes in. It shows appreciation of my work without flooding the timelines of people who don’t follow me – maybe for a reason. Or in other words: It gives the reader the tools to meaningfully curate their feed while still having the possibility to say thank you.

So please, let the like button be just that. Because it’s more than enough to make me happy.

One response

  1. @ausnahmsweise

    "….some arbitrary standard a guy calling himself an effective altruist made up on his way to work."


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