This article is on the subject of the Like Button or whatever you like to call it button … you know the one! Whether you’re having a love or hate affair with it, or both, it seems that this button is here to stay. I’m going to begin with considering the external LB (Like Button) the one we encounter on WordPress, social media and in our daily lives too. Later I’ll explore the internal LB, the one that enables us to make our own decisions and validate ourselves. The curious case of two buttons, which one of these are you pressing? Let me start by sharing that I don’t have a LB on my blog ‘The Liberated Sheep’ for reasons that will become clear by the end of this post. Although, I’ve noticed I still get likes due to the wordpress.com reader, which I have no idea how to switch off!
The External “Like” Button
Whilst researching, I read several posts about the psychology of the like button and found them really thought-provoking. They helped me to appreciate the fact that it is pleasurable to receive a like. What I found more remarkable was the fact that likes didn’t alter a person’s sense of loneliness or connection with the world. Comments did, however, as they made people feel seen, heard, and essentially less alone. Yet, despite this knowledge, we continue to press the like button in our millions. I find this deeply intriguing so I’ve decided to delve a little more today.
Fishing for likes on social media is just like any other approval seeking activity you may engage in. I hear countless stories about how many Facebook likes a person has received on their birthday and how happy they are to get them. Even if less than 10% of their virtual friends hit that button, this still makes them happy. Talk about pushing buttons! At other times I’ve seen people unhappy when online friends have forgotten their special day, clearly depending on external validation. In fact there’s a whole culture being created around the external LB, creating many generations who actively seek approval outside themselves. This often leads to sad and troubling consequences where major meltdowns and fallouts take place online.
Emotional upset is often associated with caring too much about what others think and when we spend hours, if not days stressing over what to wear, become anxious about how to behave, wonder all the time about what others think of us we become solely dependent on their opinions. We give away our power and responsibility for their judgments alone and risk trapping ourselves in unhealthy power relationships. For putting too much value on others opinions over and above our own certainly puts us in the hands of others, where if continued we end up losing all sense of who we are.
So why do I struggle with the “Like” button? Here’s one example. Last week I received five likes by the same person in less than a minute which, quite naturally left me thinking … hey, did they even READ my poems! This happened often on a poetry forum I joined, people ‘liking’ ten poems or more within a couple of minutes and would continue clicking at this rate for some time in the hope that others would then ‘like’ their work too. It’s a button story! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not averse to using the LB or sharing buttons but, as a rule-of-thumb, my like generally goes hand-in-hand with posting a comment alongside. I accept that these are my rules of engagement but not those of others. I know, who has all day to read every word online, yet why bother ‘liking’ a post if it’s obvious that you didn’t actually read it.
The Internal “Like” Button
I have a feeling that my views on the LB won’t be liked (sorry I couldn’t resist that one!). On the other hand, this liberated sheep in her post shepherd world no longer runs with the herd and lives peacefully with that awareness. Put simply, I’m a poet who loves words not buttons. Now, onto exploring our internal LB, the one that defines the way in which we evaluate information, the one we rely on to make our own decisions. Judgements based on our personal view, rather than constantly seeking the approval of others. With this internal button we no longer search for external validation, instead we sit and listen to our heart’s song.
I believe we are all born with an internal LB, some people call it the Self or Higher Self or the Soul, only sometimes this gets switched off, as mine was in childhood. There I was told I was stupid, ugly and unwanted most days. My mother neglected her children to please my father, so naturally I grew up learning to please others and neglect myself in similar ways. For many years I remained a prisoner of that early wound, replicating it in all my relationships. It was a wound with roots that ran deep. Fortunately through my thirties that external LB switch, like a dimmer, began to slowly turn down while my internal one began to turn up. In relationships I began to relate differently, seeking equality, I chose to be seen and heard. There have been low moments of course when that external button has flickered back on but those times were fewer and farther between as I became more aware of my inner LB.
I realise that when we spend time and energy standing our ground, even when someone disagrees with us, when we learn to rely on our own advice and can openly admit a mistake, we can be happy with ourselves irrespective of what others might say. Only then can our internal LB can be switched on. Put simply, we like ourselves and when we like ourselves we choose not to hurt ourselves. When we become wrapped up in the opinions of others our external LB turns on, people know this and gravitate towards those with their external LB on full beam. By the same token if we have our internal LB switched on it acts like a beacon drawing likeminded souls to us. After all, like attracts like. I wonder what Jung would of made of the external LB?
As a poet I do not strive for Life’s gold watch. I want nothing more than to find my way home. Nor am I interested in the self-aggrandizing goals of fame. I wish to keep my life simple. I have learnt that the desire to please others comes from me losing track of what pleases my own heart. I realise in the past it was more comfortable for me to believe what others told me than take the trouble to examine the truth of my own personal experience and trust it. Just now these words came to mind … ‘this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine‘ and I swear the sun and my whole garden brightened up … ‘let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!’
I believe the ‘need’ for likes takes us further away from ourselves, pushing us in the direction of ‘doing for others’ when we should be taking responsibility for ourselves. Until this trend dies we will stay off course and not celebrate the joy of liberating ourselves from outer applause! We must know ourselves as valuable, otherwise we become a liability for others who are always called to give us a round of applause, always called to admire us. We must learn to have faith in that which is internal, eternal, that which transcends doubt and fear. We like what we like, there’s no question of that, yet which button we do the liking with is essentially a life changer.
Thank you for reading. External likes not necessary.
Enjoy the freedom, as you like it!
Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2015