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Let’s get social: What’s in a ‘like’?

I’ve always wondered what a Facebook “like” really means. With so many unfortunate incidents in the past year, I’ve really come to question why we click the like button on certain posts, what we intend it to represent and how others interpret our actions.

In the past few months, I’ve seen people press the like button on statuses including, but not limited to: shootings, breakups, deaths, sadly jaded remarks and natural disasters.

Most recently, I was extremely disgusted to learn that a photo was posted on Instagram of someone being taken to an ambulance at the Back to School Bash. I understand the compulsive need to share current events, but is this really what we’ve become–posting a photo of something so extremely sensitive and private?

What does it say about us as a society if we are liking and sharing such sensitive statuses and posts like that? Then again, one could ask what it says that we share and post some of that information so freely.

But here are the points that I’m really trying to make:

Has social media desensitized us?

Is it shaping our language, communication and social boundaries?

Please, tell me if I’m the only one on this, but for me, it just doesn’t sit well with me when I see someone “liking” or posting a status that deals with such heavy content. While I don’t think that these social super users necessarily have malicious intentions, I just wonder if we’re becoming a bit too careless with what we post and do.

Moving beyond the sad and heartbreaking events, I also often think about some of the vulgar and senseless content that is posted on social networks every day. As we build our digital brand and footprint, I think it’s vital to be conscious of how we “sell” ourselves and what portrait we want to paint of ourselves.

What do you think? Am I reading into things too much?

Share your opinion and tweet me @jtleeman.

One Comment

  1. Gia R. Gia R. January 25, 2013

    Joel, another thought-provoking piece.

    I think you are spot-on in your comments. While a “like” or “retweet” may seem harmless, it’s also a reflection of who you are offline. Content we interact with on social-networking sites also lives eternally – I don’t think people realize that when they click “like” or retweet.

    Facebook’s new social search function will give businesses the ability to sort people through their interests as categorized by what they have liked or interacted with recently, an extremely powerful marketing tool. It’s a timely question and an important conversation to be having. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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