The term “like” took on a whole new meaning after the dawn of social media.
Now, alongside its traditional meaning of: enjoying/appreciating/admiring something, it means physically tapping a heart or star or some other mystical symbol on your screen. It means adding your name to a count of other people who saw, read, enjoyed, or admired a picture, blog, tweet, post, or video.
The other day, as I was scrolling through Tik Tok, I started re-watching some of the videos that I’d liked. There is a feature in the app that lets you sort and save those videos so you can more quickly access them. It was a slow afternoon, and, like a stack of miscellaneous papers, I wanted to organize my favorite videos into folders that I could refer back to. I wanted to create collections reminiscent of my Spotify playlists, that I could curate based on my mood.
In sorting and scrolling for the next hour or so, I got a good look at the posts I like, and started to formulate ideas as to why I liked them.
I found five main reasons.
1) It’s adorable
Hi, it’s me, the target audience for cute animals and babies. If I scroll past a picture of a dog with its happy tongue out, or a baby giggling, it almost seems wrong not to acknowledge it. Did you ever get chain mail when you were younger that had the threat at the bottom that essentially said, “send this to 10 friends or the world will collapse into flames and it will all be your fault”? That’s how I feel when I come across adorable internet content. I must “like” or the world will think I reject joy.
Also, I just love seeing cute sassy animals and cute sassy babies. Sue me.
2) It made me cry happy tears
This is a two-fer. If a post makes me cry happy tears—which to be honest is not hard to do—I like it because:
a) I want it to gain popularity and reach other people, thus causing more happy tears around the world
b) because sometimes you need some savings in the bank. Sometimes I will go through a day thinking, dang, I could really use a good cry right now, and so I will go home, pull up those posts and just *sob.* It’s therapeutic. It’s invigorating. It’s exhausting. It works.
3) I’m saving it to show my friends later
Sometimes a post will pop up on my feed that is so niche, so quintessentially me or my friends that I HAVE to show them. Oftentimes I will share the post immediately, be it over text or through direct messages, but sometimes I am desperate to see their live reaction, so I save the post until we are together in person and then show it off like a good grade on a test. Look at this, I say. And then we laugh or cringe or just make wide eyes at each other, bonding. It’s wonderful.
4) It made my brain ding
A brain ding is a diverse feeling. It has levels, layers, colors, all sorts of things that make them enticing and unique. Also, a brain ding is something I just made up. But sometimes you see something and think, “huh” or “woah!” or “are you kidding me?” or “how in the world?” or “I must” or “I need” or “I have to watch that nine more times.” I love finding inspiration in unique places, I love seeing the weird and creative things people come up with all over the world, I love getting that feeling of, I wonder if I could do that. This has to be the reason I like 90% of posts. But if I were to venture another statistic with no research to back it up, I’d say I only return to about 17% of these posts. Still, I like to think the inspiration gained was poured into some kind of proverbial measuring cup in my head that is constantly being stirred, waiting for just the right moment to make me realize: I HAVE TO DO THIS! Whatever this may be.
5) I’ll use it as emotional support content
One of the great things about social media is that it gives you things to talk about when a conversation takes an awkward turn. Sometimes I reach a point where I don’t have much to say. I’m fine with that but I’m usually convinced that the person I’m talking to is horrified and thinks I’m a boring piece of bread that they’d like to get away from. Sometimes it comes in handy to have a post in your back pocket, ready to fill the dead air. There is also something wildly validating about telling a story and then pulling up the corresponding post that makes an entire room laugh, gasp or “awwww”, and concludes with a few individuals saying, “oh my gosh you HAVE to send that to me.” Excuse me while I add a few stories to this building to make room for my self-esteem that has just SKY ROCKETED.
What makes you “like” a post?
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