Are You Sure You’re Pressing the Right “Like” Button?

Are you sure you're pressing the right "Like" Button?

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

14 thoughts on “Are You Sure You’re Pressing the Right “Like” Button?

  1. Very much this. I think in this frenetic world, sometimes we want to just acknowledge “I see you” like a nod in passing, but there’s so much to demand our attention.
    Thanks for this.

    1. Thank you so much Vivienne for reading and commenting on this one … it echoed with me as soon as I began reading your excellent “F” post today! Much like yourself, I have few qualms about placing my head above the parapet on these issues … not the popular choice, but who gives a “F” really! You’re a joy to read! Warm wishes, Deborah.

  2. Dear Deborah, it will come as no surprise that I fully agree with your post and with the perspective that you and Lily have given, namely, the joy and meaningfulness of meeting and exchanging with a handful of like-minds on WordPress – over the superficiality of anonymous statistics. And yes, I also believe an important part of the spiritual path is to learn to self-validate (internal LB) – only then are we riding our existential bicycle without support wheels 😉 Although self-validation is a form of love for oneself, it is of course not the same thing as narcissism or self-centredness. This is because self-validation (internal LB) is rooted in what you beautifully describe as “the internal, eternal, that which transcends doubt and fear”. Love & blessings, Sam 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Sam for your simply wonderful feedback on this Like Button topic … my internal LB is all aglow! I love your metaphorical ‘existential bicycle’ that’s such a great visual to describe moving along one’s path towards self-validation. Yes, self-love indeed, not narcissism … no support wheels or ‘likes’ needed. I have always trusted that intuitively, like-minded souls will gather and have met a handful of beautiful souls here in the blogosphere. Thank you for your excellent timely reminder earlier on your blog, for as I type know that I am ‘smiling’ with my third eye! Singing … ‘this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!’ Sending much love and light, blessed be. 🙂 🙂

  3. I’m with you on this – people looking to get more likes themselves by pressing the like button or “favouriting” a post or a picture on various social media sites is just so shallow but sadly endemic. Far better to have a few written thoughts that are honest and genuine than 100+ likes although so many don’t think this way and continue to look for those external likes. I think that this is a really well written article – really thought provoking – your use of external or internal like buttons to explain how we use internal or external validation is genius and the image is perfect for it. I like it!!! :))

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for all that you share here! Wow, you know one of the things I truly love about the blogosphere, and WordPress in particular, is that like-minded souls gather in little hot spots and deeper connections are made. We are not just ‘like’ friends, we are I believe so much more. What a revelation your comment is after writing this article, for your words help this poet feel less alone and more connected in the right way, in the way I ‘like!’ … the picture was fun, so glad you enjoyed! 🙂 🙂

  4. I “like” your post. Last night I shared it on fb hope that’s ok Deborah? 🙂

    I think Jung would write lots about the like button/s!!

    1. Although I’m not on Facebook yes happy to share. I agree, I think Jung would have been curious about the LB. Thanks again Claire. 🙂

  5. I feel like we are twins of the soul! Your post is so eerily similar in spirit to our post that is scheduled for tomorrow. In other words, I couldn’t agree more with everything you had to say! And I think it’s great that you are resolute to remain steady in your own convictions.

    1. Oh my goddess that’s such a wonderful turn of phrase ‘twins of the soul’ … thank you so much Lindsey for your most generous, supportive comment and for helping me and others feel less alone and more connected! As you’ve probably gathered words not buttons mean a lot to this poet. Will keep a look out for your latest post of which I have a feeling I’m going to like.

  6. Deborah you were born to write. This is possibly the best blogging post I have read this year! Highly original, deeply spiritual, this is new psychology….. your description of the internal like button blew my mind. Wowee what a concept, I’m so glad I’m following your blog!!!

    Yep words not buttons 🙂 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Claire for your wonderful gift of words, much appreciated. The idea of an ‘Internal LB’ first came to me whilst writing this article. New psychology?! Wow! I just find the whole LB culture intriguing. There’s so much more to say on this topic … hmmm, I wonder what Jung would have made of today’s LB?! 🙂

  7. What an amazingly insightful and honest post. I really enjoyed it. I deactivated my Facebook account almost 2 months ago. I was getting very tired of the surface bullshit. It has been a very liberating 2 months for me to just be away from a platform that promotes the validation seeking disease.
    I resonate with your wish to keep a simple life and to find your way home. I understand and seek the same.I am so grateful for the wordpress platform because it has given me the opportunity, to not only express myself without the regard for seeking validation, but it has also led me to find people like you who respect the journey of someone like us. It is comforting and reminds me to continue to “This little light of mine, Im gonna let it shine…” 🙂 Thank you, Deborah…you are a gem!

    1. Thank you so much for the kindness of your reply and your truly great comment Lily, much appreciated! I don’t have a FB account and struggle with online ‘surface bullshit’ too … I reckon it has a lot to do with our similar typology. ‘Validation seeking disease’ … your fitting description certainly hits the nail on the head! Re WordPress, I agree and love the peace and quiet whilst I write, whilst truly appreciating the wonderful handful of like-minded souls I’ve also met here in the blogosphere. Blessings, Deborah. 🙂

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