Facebook Likes

In my last post, I wrote about new things coming from old things. This post is also, in a way, about that – about a New Year’s resolution that I might actually achieve. It doesn’t matter that it’s the middle of February.

I have resolved to “like” more of the posts I see on Facebook. This is not the most salutary resolution in the History of Time; but I’ve already seen most of my New Year’s resolutions pass me by (what were they, again?) – and this one seems achievable. And it does not require me resolving to use social media less – which is part of its charm. Because I do, continually, resolve to use it less; I do, always, have mixed feelings about its utility and its complex effects on modern politics. But I don’t quit it, and so I’d like to use it better than I do (which is, lately, to post pictures of my kitten, which trend apparently everyone has noticed. Yes, I like him; yes, it will stop eventually).

Let me explain. People talk about “likes”; I’ve heard them do so, anyway. Certainly my students do. (See what I did there? Distanced this phenomenon – wanting likes – from me by a certain number of decades, as though I, too, were not a party to it.) People talk about which posts garner the most likes; people craft their online personas in order to collect and display, as if in a glass case, virtual affection.

People seem to focus, sometimes anyway, on this phenomenon more than on life – the live blogging of an event, posting pictures to Facebook of the person when you’re with the person. Messaging back and forth on social media, also when you are literally with the person. I know of what I speak – I have done this, occasionally. It is a truism that we think too carefully and too much about our selves, the crafting of our selves, our brands. It is a truism that the contrast between the shiny picture on social media and the patina of real life can breed discontent and even depression, to say nothing of envy.

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