Don’t fear Facebook’s ‘Like’ button

Bethany Keeley-Jonker

Esther Aspling
April 11, 2013

I frequently use "like" in those situations, but I know for myself I'd rather a comment. A comment show commitment. So I comment, as much as I can when my friends are talking. Not a lot mind you, but just a little something so they know I care.


John Van Sloten
April 11, 2013


April 11, 2013

well played.

April 11, 2013

Hmmm, I seem to recall some criticisms of an 'all or nothing' approach... :)

Well thought out, Bethany. I think what you're saying is important and taps into the reality of how Facebook is used for communication. I am forced to wonder, though, whether you are too quick to overlook the dark side of the 'like' button - you allude, for instance, to the equation of Facebook likes with self-esteem. What about the study that showed correlation of Facebook likes with intelligence?

I also found myself wondering... if the 'like' functions as a nonverbal affirmative communication, should Facebook introduce more such cues? Would a 'dislike' button be used to show negative nonverbals?

April 12, 2013

As you imply, Kory, I think we need to find a healthy balance between the good and right desire to receive love from others in community, and resting too much of our self-image in a certain kind of human affirmation. That is a separate issue, though, from our affirming responses to others.

I actually really liked what the facebook employee said on reddit, quoted in the slate article linked above: That facebook tries to focus on positive interactions, and in a situation where someone is sharing something sad or bad, the extra effort of a comment (even if it is, "I wish there was a dislike button!") means a lot to the recipient.

April 12, 2013

Perhaps a bit aside from the point of your piece, Facebook is a corporation that offers its service in exchange for something that it successfully turns in to power and money. On that level we ought to be judicious and wise with our "liking".

I'll like pictures and posts from friends and even smaller entities TC, churches, community groups, etc. but am leery of liking major corporations with significant advertising budgets. We should be a bit aware of the power and money behind this tool we enjoy and can use for blessing. pvk

William Harris
April 12, 2013

I would second Paul's comment. That innocuous "like" button is part of a much larger marketing project in which your preferences are turned into a portfolio. Although it may not seem much to you, who and what you like can be read as indicative of a number of other likely preferences. This is the power of Big Data.

So while I will "like" you or that cute picture of your child (and honestly, who couldn't), elsewhere, I prefer leaving a word.

Erica Schemper
April 13, 2013

Thank you for this (says the Silicon Valley wife whose financial future depends, in part, on the use of the like button!).

With that bias disclosed, I think Paul's concern about the corporate nature of facebook is a good one. (Note also, the corporate nature of google, apple, yahoo...you pick!). I don't "like" anything but friends posts about their own lives and organizations, either.

So is Kory's question about how we actually use social media: to grow relationship or to allow it to atrophy. For instance, though social media has kept me from feeling like a completely isolated stay at home parent, living in a new place, I wonder if it's also allowed me to pass on seeking out new relationships in this place.

What I love about your take, Bethany, is that it recognizes that the things human beings create (new technologies; corporations) are not in essence good or bad, but a complex mix, as we humans are. The same is true for how we engage technology and corporations.

I am often concerned, when reading Christian commentary on social media and advances in technology, that we immediately go for the bad, and forget the good. We forget that there are faithful people working in these industries to try to do good in the world. And then certain industries and corporations become our whipping boys.

So, thank you, for redeeming that big thumbs-up!

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