Don’t "like" this post

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
A few days ago, I was talking to my Robotics students about the posts made in our Facebook group. I didn't want to come across as the old guy bashing social media, but I told them I was surprised at how little discussion was actually taking place online. Students would post, but usually others would only respond by "liking."

If my students were only posting cat videos, I wouldn't have a problem with this, but most of the posts were meant to start discussion or get feedback. For these kinds of posts, "like" doesn't mean anything.

Before Facebook and Twitter, if you wanted to engage with somebody's post, the only way (on nearly all platforms) was to make a comment. Writing and posting a comment takes at least a little thought and effort.

I'm not saying that "liking" is bad and everyone should stop it. What I am saying is this: think about what your "like" means.

Here's an example of a post where "liking" would be completely appropriate:

An example of a Facebook post where liking would be appropriate

In this case, "like" simply means "yes."

On the other hand, think about what "like" means for a post like this:

An example of a Facebook post where liking contributes absolutely nothing

In this case, "like" doesn't mean much of anything, except maybe "I approve of this idea, but don't want to contribute anything to it."

After that talk with my students, I noticed that they commented more and "liked" less.

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