I Like It on Facebook: The Paradox

“Liking” Something on Facebook can be paradoxical.
I Like It on Facebook: The Paradox

At the moment, women across the Internet are updating their Facebook statuses with where they like it. It being sex?

I like it on the floor, I like it on the desk, I like it on Facebook, I like it on the bed when the dog is on the foot of the bed but he has his paws covering his eyes ’cause he’s pretty scared about what’s going on but he’s still curious. At least that’s how I like it.

But it’s not a natural phenomenon — it’s to raise awareness for serious illness. Or something. Whatever it is, it’s in lieu of actual fundraising. This makes sense: The domain of the social web is that things happen in lieu of anything actually happening.

This gives more validity to Malcolm Gladwell’s rant against social networking in the New Yorker last week.

Gladwell claims social networking increases participation by lowering the motivation that is required to effectively participate in anything. So instead of volunteering or giving money to, say, breast cancer awareness, you put a vaguely sexual remark in your status update, thereby participating in the cause with the minimal amount of effort. Thanks Facebook! Posting on my wall sure beats volunteering at the soup kitchen.

This “liking” phenomenon is also paradoxical.

A few weeks back we covered the death of ELO cellist Mike Edwards. 66 people liked it. So, 66 people liked the fact that Mike Edwards is dead? Or they liked an article pronouncing someone’s death? (You can’t say they liked the article, per se, as earned media doesn’t always translate to page views.)

On Saturday, Gizmodo published a photo of the disgusting pink goop that eventually becomes chicken patties and nuggets. 87,000 people have liked it. So we like the photo of the slop we eat? Or do we like “liking” something disgusting to be ironic? Who knows. Maybe we just like having the ability to like something on Facebook. Whatever it is, it definitely strengthens Gladwell’s “weak ties” argument.

If social networking has proved anything it’s that even in solitude in front of our computers we say we like something, even when we really don’t.