Nowadays, the most valuable currency is a like. Two subtle but steady clicks on the screen and that’s it: your little contribution to someone’s ego has been made. Since they wake up till they go to sleep, teenagers like, and if they have many of those in their assets, they become important people, someone who has what others desire. Otherwise, they experiment the silent failure of not rising up the number of likes.
The relation of person-like-person seems simple; a mere like can mean so many things: it can suggest someone’s intention; it can show interest on the subjects dealt with in the publication, or it could only be a friendly exchange between acquaintances.
Whatever the reason is, by liking we show people –who take their time to pour something of themselves on the platform and feed that voracious appetite for recognition in this era of social networks– we care. Yet, saying that “things were different in the past” or that “everything from the past was better” would be a big fat lie. People have always sought for the approval of others. The difference is that approval nowadays is sought from a more superficial place: a number of likes people click on your face.
Regarding the creation of content, there are many techniques out there to get likes, for example, updating during “peak hours.” Since it’s the time most people are checking their networks, it’s the perfect moment to make the most of your pictures and videos by adding hashtags so that people are engaged with your publications. Besides, the use of filters and effects that upgrade the quality of images can even make your photos have an added layer of originality.
In this bloody race for fame and social status, everything is valid, but it’s also here where real problems appear. The concerns and compulsive obsession to become the top in the nonexistent celebrity world of Instagram leads thousands of teenagers to depression, since they believe that not being recognized on networks is a real issue. These kids can be fascinating people in real life, but they find themselves limited by the lack of attention on their virtual lives; they're devoid of likes, and this has repercussions in their mental, emotional, and –worst case scenario– physical condition.
We don’t see any alternatives coming soon. It could be said that the quest for that craved like is comfortably set in the goals of most preteens, teenagers, and even some adults. That need to uploade the perfect photo –selected after a strict selection process–, hide flaws and paired with an inspirational phrase, has become a normal practice.
It's a shame that people get excited when they receive notifications with new likes and get disappointed when they don’t achieve their average goal, wondering if they did something wrong. As it was previously mentioned, the need to be liked has always existed, but in recent years, the society and its technological advancements have made a lot of people create a virtual personality only for their on social networks. This happens because users are pushed to fit in an established model, and therefore they feel they need to be approved by others.
The key to solving this issue would be to go back to basics: to publish things we really like just because we want to share them with our contacts, understand that the purpose of these apps is to “tell something” through a specific media, and communicate without having the fixed goal of engaging hoards of people to fill an inner void.
The obsession for likes has turned into a serious social problem. Each day more people are getting affected by not having a certain amount of followers or not having the approval of their acquaintances. This has even affected a profession still considered as an art form: photography. Take a look at The Art Of Capturing Fleeting Moments With An Analog Camera.
::Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards