“Waiting for Likes” Club

Every day this year I vowed to write – and with this promise, I send a bit of blood, sweat, tears, and cliches out into the Interweb AKA the vast mecca of others just like me. Closely tied to this commitment is my pledge “not to care” if I don’t get favorable (or any) response. It’s been 70 days and I haven’t made a blip of progress on the “do not care” scale.

It’s a popularity contest in this world; it starts in grade school and it continues on to The Internet. Success is measured in followers and bonus if your posse has a name. Along with qualifications such as degrees and experiences, nowadays you need to submit a sample of writing along with your social networking clout to see if you’re worthy or popular enough. It’s Mean Girls times a million.

I was perplexed by this modern day writing marketing mystery. The quality of your writing is judged alongside the quantity of people you bring with it. At least back in the day if you were published in a print publication, they estimated the circulation and used some mathematical formula to calculate how many eyes see your words. In today’s world, you can have perpetual shelf life via bits and bytes.

I click “Publish,” take a deep breath, and wait for the Likes even though I’ve learned a Like is not an indicator for greatness. Does clicking Like actually mean you enjoyed the writing or is it a token of support? One person liked every single piece I wrote and later I learned she hadn’t even read them all yet. Is there an unspoken Like etiquette? Is it tit-for-tat? ❤ for Emoji? Have we evolved into a Like-for-Like world?

After two months a Facebook friend reached out in a heartfelt message to send words of encouragement, but, more importantly, to let me know my words resonated with her. I had no idea. Another day, I ran into an acquaintance who quoted a line to me from one of my essays. “You’ve been reading?” I asked and she told me how she binge-read through breakfast. She had never clicked Like on any of my pieces but her lack of Like turned out not to be silent thumbs down. Instead, the Like she gave me in real life resonated much louder.

If Likes were not tracked, would you be more generous with them? Do you even think about who is seeing what you Like? Most importantly, by not clicking on the magical thumbs-up, are you actually saying, “I don’t like it?”

I reflect on my own liking habits and realize I am a strict, stubborn, stingy Liker. There is a logical explanation for this. I used to be loose with my Likes, back in the 2008-2009 era when I rocked my online presence. But Facebook came up with the crazy Big-Brother tracking which documents everything you ever Liked and displays it for everyone to judge. This immobilized me. I had over Like paralysis. Now I treasured every Like and doled it out Catholic school teacher strict – only if it was worthy of an A. For me to click the little thumbs-up, the photo had to be in focus – minimum requirement. I usually do not Like food photos and also, won’t Like political commentary because I don’t have much expertise in the arena.

As I’ve launched my new project, diving back into the social media black hole, my vulnerability factor is growing more rapidly than my “do not care factor.” As an artist, I am constantly reminding myself this is a solitary process and I shouldn’t judge a project until it’s complete (almost 300 days to go). I’m not sure if more Likes will ultimately translate to virtual applause or validation. In the meantime, I feel like Julia Robert’s character in Notting Hill, when she says, “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

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15 thoughts on ““Waiting for Likes” Club

  1. I absolutely relate! Two of my close friends told me they do read my blog, but they never comment so I didn’t know. Sometimes I get Likes from blogs that aren’t the same interests as mine, or Likes from generic self development blogs, not personal bloggers. Are those less worthy? I haven’t quite worked out how to use my Likes either. People who don’t have WP accounts can’t Like, and I have been a lurker on many blogs for years myself and never commented, so how do I capture what those readers are thinking? Should I be actively trying to increase traffic, that quantity matters over quality of readers? It’s all such a strategic game!

    For me, I have to keep reading my own About page and reminding myself why I am doing this.

    I also wanted to say something about vulnerability because I feel very vulnerable too. But then I realised that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just because others’ don’t share their lives in the public arena doesn’t mean they are immune to all the ups and downs of life or embarrassments or failures. It simply means we don’t know about them. But we are sharing ours, and doing the inner work to think about it and talk about it and work through it, and receiving support. So maybe even that in itself is good enough reason to write, despite receiving likes or not. To know that You are putting yourself out there and that act is already making you stronger.

  2. FB is the worst to me b/c there are more friends on there than on WP (I’m new to here as of the beginning of 2016; I used to be on Blogger). On FB, you know (or are related) to those people and still – chirping, echoes, nothing. I’ve got a journey ahead of me (like marathon training, goddamnit) and am curious to see this Like revolution evolve. I am also interested to see what happens when I’m done and get any press and then when other people say “Like” will others like? I rambled. Sorry. Thanks for reading!!!

  3. Pingback: The Week’s End // A Round Up of My Favorite Things Across the Web – ZEN AND Π

  4. Ahh, that’s true about FB… I don’t use FB so I didn’t consider that. Actually, that’s exactly why I don’t use FB because it makes me feel bad. Please do keep us updated on your (Not)Waiting for Likes training, it’s probably a very relatable experience to all of us connected to the internet these days 🙂

    (Ah! I just realised I Like comments if I have nothing else to say but I want to show I have read them.)

  5. I am not so great at that yet; it is so hard to keep up with a life, family, writing, and now commenting. I love people’s comments so I can imagine everyone does and I should do it more, but I feel it would add another whole item of my TTD list! Thanks for reading; I love your voice!

  6. Pretty accurate assessment of the gobbled mess that is the social media world. I really agree with the doubt/anxiety that can come from not receiving a particular number of likes on FB. But then again, I’ve also been at this for a couple of weeks and have never done this before. I’ve found that remembering why I write helps. If my words can do some good for even one soul, like or no like, then I’ve done my job. (P.S. yes, my like on this post was authentic.)

  7. I’m in the midst of a 365 project, writing every day so I’m sure some people are thinking, “You can’t possibly expect me to like your piece EVERY DAY?” They don’t know what goes into any one piece – or which one may have been more raw, more draining, more vulnerable. Mostly I guess I have to take any essence of comparison out of it and just one foot in front of the other, words on paper, march forth. Thanks for liking and mostly, reading!

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