I’d argue that people are using the Recommend button correctly. Yes, people are coming over from Facebook and Twitter with an affinity for “liking” everything, but who doesn’t want to share the things they like? Medium has it set up for a dual purpose that takes advantage of a person’s desire to click on cutesy little hearts to show they agree with the author.
I’m more used to Tumblr than I am Medium, and writers on Tumblr have a saying that I feel is relevant here: “Likes don’t pay the bills.” To translate, writers on Tumblr want their followers to reblog their work instead of merely liking it so we can get more exposure. It makes it easier for us to gain readers because not everyone likes to browse tags. A lot of people rather they get their reading material from the people they follow already. On Medium, “like” and “reblog” are intertwined into a singular “Recommend” function that allows people to read the stories the people they follow like.
Admittedly, it’s a social media concept, but blogs have turned into just another form of social media in the last handful of years. Blogs may attract people who are willing to read past 140 characters and sometimes full essays, but it’s still a form of social media for them just the same.