With the onset of social media, personal memories and thoughts are recorded and evaluated by the interaction with your friends and family. A profile picture change on facebook is commented on by your closest friends, liked by a decent portion of your friend group, and possibly even a share by your grandma who hasn’t quite figured out how to interact with posts yet.
We crave the attention of our friends.
To get a like is to feel that your presence is noted and appreciated. We as humans desire the attention and praise of our peers and request that they show us attention time and time again.
Recently, my friend and I talked about our crushes and how much we interacted with them that day. One of the biggest signals to feed our ideas of our crush reciprocating our feelings was them liking some of our content on facebook. We took the simple gesture of a like to mean that they, in fact, feel as strongly about us as we did about them. Liking is the new way of passing notes in class, we retain our 1st-grade charm.
Our obsession with another person liking our content does not only follow crushes, it even verges into our friendships. On multiple occasions, I have jokingly nagged my friends for not liking my profile picture or some witty content I created on the fly. Why did I care so much about them liking my content? I couldn’t expect all of them to be online at the correct moment for them to see what I posted, and to be so engaged with content that they like or comment. The problem is that many of us take social media interactions very seriously, we expect, no demand, that our friends interact with us and if they don’t we hypothesize a tension growing between the friendship.
That is why there is such an obsession to get an exorbitant amount of likes on facebook or Instagram. We want to feel wanted by our peers, to feel accepted and loved. A like is not meaningless, it is a sign of social prominence.