On the Facebook Like button, and why it’s awful.

In Company of One, around page 8, I wrote:

It was a hackathon that led to the creation of Facebook’s “Like” button, which arguably connects its ecosystem to the rest of the internet.

It seems like a fairly innocuous sentence. While it’s factually true and fits into the overarching story, there’s a huge failure by omission on my part.

What I failed to mention is that the Like button is awful. It’s an awful feature from an awful company, from an awful type of product, run by horribly awful leadership. Let me explain.

First, Facebook keeps getting into hot water because of the lines they’re willing to cross to make money. It’s not just Facebook, most massive (tech) companies do it, but it’s easy to single them out because they’ve made so many morally gross decisions. Like selling user data, exploiting teens who are feeling anxious or insecure, and even paying teens a pittance to watch and track their every move online. And, this is just what they’ve been caught doing. Who knows what they’ve gotten or are currently getting away with? Even with the bad PR, Facebook’s profit is unscathed, showing that we’re willing to trade our privacy and data for “free” use of their platform.

Second, the Like button specifically creates intermittent reinforcement to heighten our desire for social approval. This has been studied numerous times by behavioural psychologists, as a way to shortcut our dopamine system and make us take part in that behaviour far more than we should. As in, wanting social approval is a deep human need (we’re social creatures) and getting it at random intervals from people liking our status updates on platforms like Facebook, keep us anxious and compulsively seeking more.

Studies are finding that on average we spend 4 hours a day on our phones, checking them every 12 minutes—on vacation (it’s far more if it’s a work day). A lot of this has to do with “social” media platforms being built specifically to encourage checking them as often as possible for those bursts of dopamine.

Third, these platforms being called “social platforms” or “social media” seem to be a huge misnomer. Research indicates using them increases—not decreases—loneliness and depression. The Like button specifically heightens anxiety and decreases feelings of self-worth. We use these platforms because we seek validation and human acknowledgement and interaction, but never get it. So we come back (at least every 12 minutes). Looking for self-worth on these platforms is a false dichotomy—how can we increase “self” from external factors? How we can place any part of worth in the number of clicks we get on a heart after our updates?

Facebook’s own former president, Sean Parker, said their platform was “exploiting vulnerability in human psychology”. Facebook is easy to point at but every other platform like theirs, from Twitter to their Instagram, works the same way. Sean continued, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.”

Interactions on these platforms feel like social interaction but since they’re not we continue to crave it and continue coming back. They shouldn’t be called “social networks” because they’re more exploitive than social. “Exploitive networks” sounds harsh, but it’s more honest.

Which begs the question, what do we do now?

Exits en masse sound great, as do digital detoxes, but going back to a Luddite life without tech seems a touch too far. Personally, I’ve spent years thinking about this subject. I don’t want to support or use platforms that are detrimental not only to my own mental health but to our greater social fabric. So I’m not on Facebook or Instagram. But I do use and enjoy Twitter (mostly because I use the platform to start conversations that continue off of Twitter). I really don’t have the answer to how we should deal with or use these platforms.

My favourite take on acknowledging and existing in a world where “social” media exists is from Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times. He suggests we do three things to deal with any new platform (or technology) that comes out.

  1. Look at the business model, not just the product. If they don’t charge the users, they’re making money some other way. Probably selling the data you’re freely giving them. So before joining another network or picking up a new piece of tech, consider how and where the money flows.
  2. Stop feeding giants. Players in any market or industry that create monopolies undermine consumer choice and ruin innovation. But also, it’s harder to be moral or ethical if you’re required to rapidly grow and dominate at all costs (I wrote a whole book about this, as you probably remember).
  3. Slow down. Early adopters of anything don’t have the full story, full picture, or know the ramifications of using something. Plus, early versions of anything tend to be filled with bugs and security issues. Adopt new tech and platforms late, only after more information is available.

I would add a final point, specifically in regards to “social media” and that’s to be aware. Specifically, be aware of:

  • If you’re happier or sadder after using a platform.
  • How often you’re using the platform, and if any free second you have defaults your behaviour to check in or refresh.
  • If you’re feeling anxious when you’re not using the platform and why.
  • If it’s sparking joy. Just kidding, but be aware of what benefits, if any, you’re getting from the platform.
  • How you can use the platform as a tool for what you need, and not let it use you simply as a data-product to line its coffers.

These platforms like Facebook, with their “Like” buttons could easily save the world by connecting us all and showing us how similar we all are. Or, they could ruin democracy and everything good that exists, and turn us all into compulsive labourers of their technology, mindlessly feeding personal data to the algorithms for access, pulling their slot machines again and again.

If we’re craving human interaction, maybe we should stop looking for it through likes and what the algorithm gives us. Maybe instead of constantly wanting to refresh or check in we can slow down and listen. Maybe instead of using every free minute or every bit of space in the day we can relish in the beauty of actual solitude. Maybe having regular and lengthy doses of giving ourselves the space to think could be crucial for resilience, introspection and even creative insight.

And, maybe, instead that line in my book should read:

It was a hackathon that led to the creation of Facebook’s “Like” button, which arguably gives us more anxiety than we need and drives detrimentally compulsive behaviour, exploiting our freedom.

It doesn’t flow as nicely in the overarching story, but it’s a lot more accurate.

185 thoughts on “On the Facebook Like button, and why it’s awful.

  1. A fascinating discussion is definiteⅼy worth comment.
    I think that you should write more on this topic,
    it may not bе a taboo subjeсt but usualⅼу folks don’t speak about sսch subjects.

    To the next! Cheers!!

  2. This is why that ineffable quality called good judgement is really valuable. This information is magnificent. I enjoyed your post. Thank you. When you put good people with a common interest in a room together, they’re sure to talk about common goals.

  3. I loved as muⅽһ as you will receive carried out right here.

    The sкetch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish.
    nonetheless, yοu command ɡet got an shakіness over that you wish
    be deliνerіng the following. ᥙnweⅼl unquestіonably c᧐me more formerly again as exactly
    the same nearly a lot oftеn inside caѕe you shieⅼd thіs increase.

  4. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  5. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  6. After looking at a few of the articles on your web site, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my website as well and tell me how you feel.

  7. I was very happy to find this page. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to check out new things on your web site.

  8. You are so interesting! I don’t Ьelieve I’ve read a single thing like
    that before. Ѕo great to find another person with
    a few unique thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thanks fоr starting this
    up. This ѕite is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with some oгiɡinality!

  9. Hі this is kind of of оff topic but I was wondering if
    ƅlogs use WYSIWYG eⅾitors or if you have to manually code with HTML.

    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowⅼedge so I
    wanted to get guiԀance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatlʏ appreciated!

  10. I am not sure ѡhere you are getting yօur info, but great tⲟpіc.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or
    ᥙnderstanding more. Thanks for exсelⅼent inf᧐rmation I was looking
    for this info for my mission.

  11. You are so cool! I don’t believe I have read through anything like this before. So wonderful to discover somebody with original thoughts on this topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with some originality.

  12. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this issue here on your site.

  13. Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I will send this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Right here is the perfect blog for anybody who would like to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that has been written about for ages. Great stuff, just wonderful.

  15. Right here is the perfect site for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that has been discussed for ages. Great stuff, just wonderful.

  16. Hi there, I think your web site may be having browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent blog!

  17. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after going through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly.

  18. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch simply because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this matter here on your website.

  19. Hi, I think your blog might be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic blog.

  20. Οh my goodness! Amazing aгticle ԁude! Thanks,
    Ꮋoԝever I am experiencing difficulties with your RSႽ.

    Ι don’t know the reason why I can’t join it. Is there anybоdy eⅼse gеtting the sаme RSS problems?
    Anybody who ҝnows the answer can yߋᥙ kindly respond? Thanx!!

  21. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you need to write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but generally people do not speak about such issues. To the next! Best wishes!

  22. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely happy I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently.

  23. Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile.

  24. Hello, I think your website might be having browser compаtibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Safari, it looks
    fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some
    overlappіng. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, terrific blog!

  25. You are so awesome! I don’t think I have read through something like that before. So wonderful to find someone with some unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality.

  26. The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn’t fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, nonetheless I really believed you would probably have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

  27. I like your website.. great shades & motif. Performed people design and style this fabulous website yourself or even have people rely on someone else to make it work for you personally? Plz interact when I!|m looking to pattern by myself blog site plus would want to find out wherever u received this particular through. thank you

  28. After going over a few of the blog posts on your web site, I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site too and let me know what you think.

  29. Ꮋi there! I just would like to offеr you a big thumbs up for the
    grеat info you have got right here on this post.
    I am returning to your site for more ѕoon.

  30. I like tһe helpful info you supply foг your articles. I’ll bookmark youг blog and
    test oncе more riցht here frequently. I’m relatively certain I’ll
    be told many new stuff right right here! Good luck for the next!

  31. Hi, I think your site may be having web browser compatibility problems. When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, great blog.

  32. Hmm it looks like your sіte ate my fіrst comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll
    just sum it up what I had ԝritten and say, I’m thorouցhly enjoying your bⅼog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any tips for inexperienced blog writеrs?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

  33. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!

  34. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anybody else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  35. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it.

  36. The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, however I actually believed you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

  37. YesteгԀay, wһile I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and
    tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just s᧐ she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad
    is now broken and she haѕ 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but
    I had to sһare it with someone!

  38. Howdy, I do think your blog might be having web browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful site.

  39. Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return once again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  40. I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  41. Аfter exploring a number of the articles on your website,
    I seriously like yߋur technique of writing a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark site list and will be
    checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site too and tell me your opinion.

  42. This is the perfect webpage for everyone who hopes to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that’s been discussed for a long time. Excellent stuff, just great.

  43. You aгe so cool! I don’t beⅼieve I’ve truly read anything like thɑt
    before. So good to discߋver someboԀу with some ɡenuine thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site iѕ somethіng that is required on the internet, someone
    with some originality!

  44. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this in my hunt for something relating to this.

  45. Right here is the right webpage for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has been discussed for years. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful.

  46. You’ve made some good points there. I looked on the web for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

  47. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be useful to read articles from other writers and use something from other web sites.

  48. Right here is the right blog for anyone who really wants to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic that’s been written about for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just excellent.

  49. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you can fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

  50. I absolutely love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own site and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Cheers.

  51. I absolutely love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own personal site and would like to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!

  52. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own website now 😉

  53. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on.
    You have done a formidable job and our entire community will be grateful
    to you.

  54. Howdy this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use
    WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance
    from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  55. you’re really a excellent webmaster. The site loading pace is amazing.
    It seems that you’re doing any distinctive trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterwork.
    you have done a fantastic task in this subject!

  56. of course like your website however you have to check the spelling on several of your
    posts. Many of them are rife with spelling
    problems and I find it very troublesome to inform the truth on the other hand I’ll surely come
    back again.

  57. Wonderful post, thanks for discussing the data. It isn’t all too often that you simply read articles where the poster knows what they’re running a blog regarding. Grammar and punctuational are spot on too, only trouble We seemed to possess had been mentioning the website, seemed sluggish. Looks like additional visitors experienced exactly the same difficulty?

  58. This is the perfect site for anybody who wants to understand this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that’s been discussed for ages. Great stuff, just great.

  59. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something concerning this.

  60. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to publish more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not speak about these topics. To the next! Many thanks.

  61. May I simply just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they are discussing online. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people should check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular since you certainly possess the gift.

  62. Hello there! This post could not be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will send this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

  63. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own site now 😉

  64. I was pretty pleased to discover this website. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every part of it and i also have you book marked to check out new information on your website.

  65. Right here is the perfect blog for everyone who really wants to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that has been discussed for decades. Excellent stuff, just great.

  66. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more on this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t speak about such issues. To the next! Best wishes!

  67. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  68. Hello there, There’s no doubt that your site could be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic blog.

  69. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more about this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but usually folks don’t talk about these subjects. To the next! Cheers.

  70. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this topic here on your blog.

  71. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I’ll send this article to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  72. Hi there, I believe your blog might be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, excellent site!

  73. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this issue here on your site.

  74. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you need to publish more on this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t talk about these topics. To the next! All the best!

  75. Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you weren’t too busy searching for attention.

  76. Hello there! This article could not be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I am going to send this information to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  77. I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

  78. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this post to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  79. Oh my goodness! a fantastic article dude. Thanks However We’re experiencing issue with ur rss . Do not know why Struggle to sign up for it. Can there be anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  80. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I’m hoping to see the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own website now 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *