By Lisa Barr
I remember when I was desperately trying to get pregnant, after having lost three back-to-back pregnancies, and I would see pregnant women everywhere. When I was getting divorced, I seemed to spot more couples holding hands or making out in elevators and in restaurants than ever before. When I was trying to get my book published, it seemed as though all my writer friends were getting deals and I was left out in the cold.
It’s just a life fact, that when you want something so badly, it only comes when you’re NOT looking — a surprise pregnancy that sticks when you’ve all but given up … the man of your dreams appears at your doorstep when you begin to doubt the institution of marriage … a book deal arrives after you have gone the unconventional route.
But what happens when someone/something is offering you Instant Gratification — this, my friends, is Facebook’s secret weapon; playing brilliantly on our core need to be “Liked”: “Mommy, THOSE girls like me and asked me for plans … I heard that boy in Spanish likes me … the Coach likes me and plans to start me next week … My boss really likes me and I may be promoted … And the most famous “like” of all — Award-winning actress Sally Field’s historic acceptance speech for her Oscar: You like me, you really like me …
We all laugh at the crazy things people will do for a “like” … and the Jay Lenos have a field day with this topic. But the truth is all Leno really wants is for his nightly monologue to be “liked”.
At the end of the day, is it all really about the applause?
I decided to experiment and test out the “like” concept. In my own house — one daughter was supposed to be doing her homework, when in fact, she was working on her “profile” picture — which earned her 97 Likes in just a few hours (way more meaningful than the A she received on her Science test). And that’s just one daughter — multiply Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (“Likes” are known as “Re-Tweets”) by three teenage girls, and we’re talking a diet of no less than 150 likes a day on Whatever, not to mention all the ‘liking’ they are doing of others’ photos, comments, quotes, etc.
I asked another daughter: If an image or a “memory” shot earns just a few “likes” does it make it any less worthy to you?
Eye roll. Duh.
Hmm … so it was my youngest daughter’s Bat-Mitzvah last weekend — and my sister was in town from Austin. She is my best friend — so of course we had to get our “money” shot together. She took it on her iPhone — uploaded, downloaded, tagged me on Facebook (that’s the pattern) — and by the time I got home from the Bat-Mitzvah party there were 50 likes and rising. Secretly, I felt the little “like” rush that my kids experience every nanosecond. I checked the like status the next morning to see our numbers. Then I re-checked it in the afternoon, and later that evening. I even sent my sister a funny text with the running update of our “Likes” — and I knew with all my Facebook cynicism — at my core, I, too, was no less guilty than my daughters.
A whole lotta Likes is a quick shot of self-confidence.
“Likes” have also taken a new direction — used as a tool by “Like Entrepreneurs” to get their way — in what I term the “Manipulative Like”.
For example, one hard-up guy asked The World to join him in his quest to get a certain woman into bed. His plea: If I can get one million Likes, this girl will sleep with me. The World cared that he was getting laid. He got millions of Likes.
A young girl asked: If I can get 1000 likes, my Mommy WILL buy me a puppy. Little girl gets 5,000 Likes and a Teacup Poodle.
There is sheer beauty to another aspect of the “Like” concept — what I call the “The Raise Awareness Like.”
– A seven-year-old girl is bullied, and the bullies cut off her hair. There is an image of the abused child. Viewers were asked to join in and LIKE the fight against bullying. This picture went viral, and my eighth grader told me about it, and how all of her friends “liked” this image.
– A popular high school boy was named Prom King last Friday. He gave up his “crown” to another student in his class who has Williams Syndrome, a neurological disorder that inhibits learning and speech. It was the Moment of Moments in that boy’s life as his entire high school cheered him up onto the stage and crowned him king. (I was so moved by this that I could have sent 100 LIKES myself).
– A young girl, bald with a million-dollar smile, asked for Likes to help promote awareness of Kids With Cancer — hundreds of thousands of Likes were given to support her.
Likes are NOT the New Black, they are the ONLY Black in town these days. So I thought how can I somehow use this concept to my homefront advantage? I asked my kids:
- If I can get 1000 likes of a photo of your unmade bed — will you make your bed every day?
- If I can get 1000 likes of our messy dinner table and overflowing sink of dishes with the glued-on oatmeal from breakfast — will you, my daughters, do a better job of cleaning up?
- If I can get 1000 likes of our two dogs who need to go out, eat, and take walks — will you remember to take care of your furry sisters’ needs and not leave it ALL to me?
- If I can get 1000 likes of any one of your closets, which on a daily basis appear to have been hit by a hurricaine — will you organize it?
After posing these philosophical questions to my family, one of my daughters (Queen of the Likes) shook her head firmly and said: Do not even think of posting ANY of those questions, Mommy. You will get No Likes, I guarantee.
Eye roll. Duh.