A few weeks ago my sister, Michele, got married. The Emcee for the evening said it was a mature wedding — ha, ha, I agree! — but it was also fun. The bride and groom were both pretty relaxed and not the type of people prone to drama, especially the drama often associated with a wedding. They have some great friends and, biased as I am, wonderful family on both sides. It was a happy occasion and it didn't take much to get the party started after dinner.
My sister is also a FB girl. I'm on FB too but have to admit I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love the connection it offers yet I don't want my life splayed out for all to see, which is silly because I share my life through these posts. That aside, I decided to post pictures of the couple in the morning before the big event as they were getting ready and the next day I posted some of the wedding itself.
As people responded to the post I found myself getting excited by the growing number of likes, even better when someone made a comment too! It was fun to hear from friends of Michele who, though they weren't invited, wanted to wish the happy couple well. While I did not know all of Michele’s friends who responded I had met some in the past and it became a trip down memory lane as I thought about the circumstances in which we had met. I could hardly put the phone down for the next three days. It was intoxicating!
Then other family and friends started posting pictures they had taken. These would have been pictures we may never have seen in days gone by - now easily shared and downloadable for my own album. The intoxication continued.
It's no wonder people get hooked. It felt to me like a combination of being a part of the ‘in’ group; of validation because I had posted the pictures; of being liked personally even when I didn’t personally know all those who responded. I can see how easily it may lead to the desire for more likes not to mention how the feeling of rejection or feeling somehow less than great can arise if the likes don't happen. It would feel like that somehow since no one liked my post they actually didn't like me. Silly, I know, but that’s the feeling that came up.
We used Uber a lot that weekend. The trips weren't far but just a bit too far to walk. That led to a discussion on how important the stars rating system is for the Uber driver. Their livelihood depends on it and each one in their own way requested that rating. I did not realize that the passengers are rated too, which makes sense. It’s a warning system to other drivers to be aware of potentially onerous passengers. But that's a business. (No, we'll leave the discussion about how good a business for another time.)
This idea of needing or wanting likes online brings up several issues in my mind. A good place to start was the fact that it was so intoxicating that I could hardly put the phone down. I think we miss out when our heads are down with eyes on the screen.
Also, if our feelings of self worth get wrapped up in how many likes we get, or don't get, in the online world we're in trouble. I suppose this is a different, more modern version of 'keeping up with the Joneses.' In either case, if this is true for you, there needs to be some serious soul searching about your values.
I think you could lose true connection when your only interaction is online. You don't have smiles, or trips, or silly stories of shared experiences if you've never experienced anything together. And really, that’s when you have something to post and share.
It took a few days for me to come down from the high of the wedding, the family, and the post wedding events. I think that’s natural. The feeling of intoxication I got with FB, that’s another story. It’s also a feeling of being high, yet dangerous somehow because I could keep looking at the phone for another hit. Did someone else press ‘Like?’ It feels like it could become addicting. If I am constantly searching for that high and thinking I’ll get it through the FB likes, well, it ain’t gonna happen.
It’s when we treat people as if we were one - what I do for you I do for me - they naturally want to be a part of our world. They want to share in the joyful and sad parts of your life, to connect from far away, and what better way than FB. But it is a balancing act.
From a business perspective it just makes good sense to treat customers as you would wish to be treated. The Uber driver, for example, who took a liking to my Dad and was professional and courteous got a call back the next day. The taxi driver my sister and her husband usually call for drives to and from the airport greeted them with flowers and a free ride home after the wedding as his wedding gift.
Connecting, online or offline, feels great when it’s done from the heart and not the desire to be liked.