Facebook is killing what makes you, you.

Facebook Unlike

Destruction of Diversity

The claim I’m making about the potential damage the Facebook like can cause to society in the long-term might sound really outlandish, but please bear with me as I try to convince you that it’s potentially much, much worse.

The Facebook Like

Sitting there, right next to every post, innocently waiting for your approval to confirm it’s relevancy to you and your life – the Facebook like.

The Facebook like has been so deeply immersed into the fabric of our everyday digital lives that clicking on it has become as natural as a subconscious, nervous finger drum-roll.

Likes = Value

Like money, a Facebook like has value, but it’s not the amount of value in the monetary form that is relevant to the majority of us, it’s the type of value that could potentially lead to the doomsday of diversity.

The majority of us, as hard as we may try, don’t get any more than 50 likes on each of our posts, unless we’ve just graduated, got married or are a girl with Kim Kardashian-like contour skills. This means that our posts are, in monetary terms, worthless – and that’s the good news. The bad news, I feel you wonder, is that our posts are driven by personal value.

Personal value, simply put, is the value we ourselves put on the number of likes we receive on each of our posts. We invest time and emotion into our statuses while afterwards addictively checking, like meth-induced drug-addicts, on the pointless Facebook like counter for verification that our thoughts are welcomed by our neighbouring digital friends. The more likes we get, the more validated we feel our thoughts are and, in turn, the more value we put on those statuses, further influencing our future posts.

But what has this got to do with the destruction of diversity? Let’s get to it.

Behavioural Control

Personally, I love software development, psychology, science documentaries and music. The problem, however, is that the majority of my Facebook friends do not share those same interests. Heck, I don’t even know a large portion of my so-called friends, yet I find myself limiting my genuine thoughts for tailored versions in fear of an inevitable and shameful public rejective stand-off that will not only bruise my ego but make me feel like my thoughts and feelings are not ones that are equally shared by the rest of the world. It’s this fear that leads to behavioural control. I begin silencing the thoughts I genuinely care about in exchange for pointless memes, 5-year old humorous videos and pictures of my children, knowing that the demographic for those types of statuses is much broader so that I can get my daily dose of social acceptance. Sad, don’t you think?

You may or may not be aware of it but when you write a Facebook status, you’re writing it with a preemptive Facebook like expectation in mind. You want to trade impressing your peers for Facebook likes at the cost of broadcasting your own, genuine thoughts. If your internally evolved analysis report doesn’t believe it will live up to those expectations, you’ll likely revise it to increase your chances of more likes or abandon the status completely. You may even delete statuses you’ve already posted if you feel the number of likes embarrassingly fall short of your ever-growing expectations to further hide behind the sad truth that we care more about the validation from others from our fake, manufactured thoughts, than we do from expressing our true thoughts and feelings, and all in exchange for what? A measly online scorecard, that we call the Facebook like, that has absolutely no value to us other than to steer our thoughts into a narrow-minded tunnel that is slowly destroying what could be the very essence of what makes us, us.

You Are What You Think

You may have heard the quote ‘If you repeat a lie long enough, you will begin to believe it’, and there is some real truth to it. The phenomenon is called the illusory truth effect and was first established in 1977 at Villanova University and Temple University. The studies show that the longer you are exposed to false information, the more likely you are to identify with it as truth.

The longer we continue to change the way we express ourselves through Facebook with likes as the primary goal, the more we will slowly change who we become as people. The thoughts we engage with eventually shape who we are and continuously recrafting our thoughts for the sake of a valueless like, I think, is a pretty sad destiny for diversity.

The Truth

The truth is our Facebook friends are a tiny fraction of the world and is by no means a basis for changing who we are to appease the irrelevant few who do not share our views, just to get a few extra Facebook likes.

What Do You Think?

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.