A while ago, I was reading a really interesting blog post about something. I don’t remember what, but it was outside of my usual areas of interest, which at the time were food you can make in the microwave, cats, and inspirational lists. I found the article to be incredibly engaging and thought-provoking, so I went up to the top of the page, where the WordPress banner resides, so that I could “like” it. But there was no like button. I was confused and tried to find the button elsewhere, but with no success.
I was pretty new to WordPress at the time, so this really threw me off. I didn’t even know we could get rid of the like button if we wanted to, but more importantly, I didn’t get why anyone would want to get rid of it. I sadly closed out of the page without giving the author any indication of how much I loved his or her post. A few weeks later, I stumbled upon an article (I think it was one of those daily posts from WordPress) that casually mentioned in it how some bloggers get rid of the like button because it robs the writers and readers of a real connection. To put it bluntly, I thought the writers were just being whiny and looking for something to complain about. There was nothing wrong with the like button.
That was stupid of me.
But that was a long time ago.
I’ve changed a lot since then. I recently started this little blog, and with a clean slate and fancy new username, I’ve been creeping on other people’s blogs. (Maybe you’ve seen me.) As I was perusing through some other people’s recent posts, I found myself wanting to tell people how much I really liked their posts, but then deciding “Nah, I’ll just like it instead.” Then there were really intelligent posts about issues I was strongly interested in. I’d be all ready to throw my two cents into the conversation, but then I’d get intimidated because I wasn’t a historian or a Ph.D.-holding scholar of fine arts or someone who really knew what was going on in the world of science after 1946. So I’d just like it instead.
This seemed like a win-win situation. I show the writers how much I like their posts, the writers get a little endorsement on their pages (and the occasional trophy from WordPress), and I don’t have to put into words this slew of half-baked misconceptions I call thoughts.
That, however, was the problem with the like button. When I just like something and move on, the conversation ends there. Nothing can move forward. The writers just see that someone likes what they’re writing, but the writers don’t know what the reader liked about it, whether the reader actually read it, the reader’s thoughts on the post, or the reader’s own personal experiences that can serve as a sense of camaraderie in this big, scary world.
So I temporarily stopped using the like button on other posts. If I liked something, I forced myself to actually comment and express why I liked it or what I liked about it to the writer in words. It enabled me to get into some great conversations with some people. Other people probably just think I’m a low-level stalker, but we’re communicating ideas, and isn’t that the whole purpose of blogs? I’ll still use the like button, especially on blogs that I absolutely adore because commenting on every single post would probably annoy them. Liking is a bit more subtle.
That’s not to say that you all shouldn’t like my posts. I love seeing the little notification that someone liked something I wrote. It makes me feel appreciated and like I’m on the right track in life. And sometimes that really is all you need to do. Some posts you just like. You don’t really have a whole cascade of feedback for the writer or articulate points extending the subject into post-modern existentialism (if that’s a thing). I’m just saying that I think we should all comment more and talk to each other from time to time. It’ll be fun.
What are your thoughts on the like button? Like this post if you 100% fully support using the like button, and then comment and tell me why. Comment on this post if you’re completely against the use of the like button, and then like my post just as a reminder that no one can be completely sure of anything in this life.