Like: The Power of a Single Click

The development of recent social media technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have completely revolutionized the way humans interact with one another, how we interact with our environment, and how advertisers and large companies interact with technology users. The documentary Generation Like raises various ideas about how these technologies are continually shaping not only the world we live in, but the very people who are using such platforms.

An idea raised in the documentary that struck me as extremely relevant and important is the feeling of empowerment today’s youth experience when using social media sites. Empowerment is taking over today’s youth simply because of the fact that a user wants to be liked. We are empowered through “likes”. If someone sees that a certain person “likes” something or someone, they are largely influenced by others and are more likely to also “like” that object or person. As today’s media landscape has become extremely scattered, it always remains a problem to capture the attention of the audience and experience the feeling of validation from those individuals. In the eyes of today’s youth and avid social media users, the concept of a “like” is the validation and attention that they so badly long for. If a different user “likes” something they post, they experience a sense of self-satisfaction and validation that they are actually liked.

More specifically, the power that a single “like” can have on a person which can then change attitudes about that individual based on certain attributes and the concept that a “like” can transpire into more power for companies and advertising giants. What becomes very hard to understand is the sheer power that clicking a “like” or “retweet” button can truly have. On the surface, users simply believe they are liking something for the face value that it serves them or they are retweeting something because they enjoyed it. However, companies not only can take such information to learn the users interests, friends, and personality traits, but the “like” button allows companies to create a profile of information about each of the users, compiling information to better understand who they are and how to target them. At that point, the “like” not only becomes the click of a mouse, but the “like” is transformed into money for the companies.

While money serves as one form of currency, another form of currency observed is the level of fame the “like/retweet/subscribe” button can bring upon someone’s life. In addition, experiencing such fame on a social media platform has the ability for recognition from individuals as well as companies who target social media sensations as a route to help brand their product. Essentially in today’s media world, each and every one of the users serves as their own media company. Users start as a blank slate when they first begin their profile on any platform and slowly build up a network of “fans”, gain “likes”, and establish the identity they want to undertake on that site.

Ultimately, the entirety of our actions on such a platform is centered around the idea of a “like”. A virtual button that says someone approves of what you post, they enjoy what you post, or they were simply intrigued. The power behind the “like” is simply astounding, and most likely the reason why users continue to access and post to social media technologies. Personally, I believe the “like” button traces its roots back to the innate human nature to desire the approval of others. As in all aspects of life, humans want to be successful, they want to be happy, and they want to feel liked by others. Whether this “like” is experienced in the real world or the “like” is experienced virtually by the click of a button, the reassurance that another person approves of your actions is what all humans constantly strive for.