And Now I “Like” You: The Facebook Fixation

Posted on January 29, 2013 in Sci- Tech

By Pooja Baburaj:

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” -William Arthur Ward

I have always loved to major in Psychology and inscribe in history the most intelligent thesis on reinforcement. A text-book definition sates that “Reinforcement is the process administering ANY object, event or stimuli that increases the rate of occurrence or encourages desired behavior from an individual.” A brilliant example of this would be the provision of constant bribes, mostly in the form of cheap candies and foot-massages that you offer your siblings in exchange for their silence on your late-night escapades. A reinforcer is an object, event or stimuli that increases the rate of occurrence or encourages desired behaviour from an individual. For example, the Facebook ‘like’ button which allows you to encourage something as fantastically absurd as the duck-face phenomenon to that of a noble cause like the breast-cancer awareness campaigns.

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This happened once upon a time, a few Facebook years ago – I fretfully sauntered my scrawny self through the alien hallways, fortified with an extra-large Disney backpack and a toning cherry water-bottle that dangled loosely from my skeletal neck. I stole a small, nervous glance through my shoulder to get that final boost of buoyancy from my parents, an assuring signal of ‘thumbs-up’. But then the world keeps spinning around, the sun goes down and humans discover yet another product of their intellect and innovativeness. Addressing the passivity of the expression of emotions and their near non-existence in the industrial era, man has brought his greatest discovery after the sewage system – the divine ‘Like’ button on Facebook.The concept of ‘liking’ things is very old, likely older than the words we use to describe it…” said Facebook Engineer Andrew Bosworth, who was a part of the team that created the ‘like’ button.

It is indeed astounding to note that a ‘like’ is not and most often never determined solely on the basis of the rationality and sagacity of the content published. There is an added element or aspect in major play during the decision-making process – the human element. I presume that the part of the human psyche that Facebook exploits is our sociability and insecurity. The way individuals perceive one another can have a dialectic impact on their lives. Love, hate and admiration are just some sentiments that most of us seek out in one form or another. You’ll find several girls and guys who post and repost beautified pictures or glorious philosophies craving for a couple of likes. It is almost akin to a giant advertisement proclaiming the purpose of your apparently enviable existence. The trouble comes in when attempts are made to translate the virtual popularity into the real world — popular boo-boos include equating virtual popularity to realistic situations. Dear people, if it worked that way then we’d be shopping with Farmville cash now.

Facebook depression’ has been raised has one of the potential harms linked with social media, an influential doctors’ group warns, referring to a condition that affects teens who obsess over the online site. “The unique aspect of Facebook ‘likes’ can make it a particularly tough social landscape to navigate for kids already dealing with poor self-esteem”, said Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area paediatrician and lead author of new American Academy of Paediatrics social media guidelines. With in-your-face friends’ tallies, status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times, Facebook can make some kids feel even worse if they think they don’t measure up. “It can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria or other real-life encounters that can make kids feel down”, O’Keeffe said, “because Facebook provides a skewed view of what’s really going on. Online, there’s no way to see facial expressions or read body language that provide context.”

Using social media networks for connecting with old friends, for sending urgent messages to an absent colleague, to see your children graduate in another country — in such cases, Facebook is extremely helpful, but when we overlook the basic rationale of joining Facebook and presuppose that it’s a popularity contest platform, everything starts flying out the window.

Now that’s everything’s been said and done- you are going to ‘like’ my article, aren’t you? Huh? Huh?

Photo Credit: afagen via Compfight cc

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