Recently my cousin Michael Lipsett was featured on a podcast called “People Doing Things” by Nick Thornton. For that episode, they were discussing Michaels work and career life up to this point.
A little before the half way mark of the podcast, Nick and Mike discussed obsessions with “likes” when people post their creative work on social media sites — How easy it is to use “likes” as a validation gauge, rather than being satisfied with our work by ourselves.
This got me thinking about my own relationship with “likes” and notification badges. I know for a fact I have an obsession with those likes, and my emotions are attached to them. As of late, on Instagram specifically, if one of my photographs does not receive at least 11 “likes” (enough to switch the like section from names to numbers) I don’t think it’s a successful photo. I feel the urge to remove the photograph (and have a couple times).
The larger issue I’ve experienced is I feel what I post is controlled by “likes”. Controlled by only posting things I feel will guaranteed get “likes”. If I’m uncertain in any way, I don’t post it.
So the larger question is, how can I participate in social media sharing, and not have my content be controlled by the numbers?
The knee jerk answer seems to be “Stop using (insert social media site here)”
That answer doesn’t work for me. I want to share my creations with the world, I just don’t want to obsess over the feedback and have it restrict what I post.
There are social sites, blogging sites more specifically, that give the option of not having a comments section or like button. That’s all good and well, but I like using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. That’s were the people are, and I want to be with the people! I also like the feedback, I just want to alter how and when I see it.
So I have a couple ideas:
“Likes” are still feedback. This is people saying “I don’t have anything specific to say, but I want to let you know I like this and want to encourage more content like this”.
What if we could simply mute the likes. Choose to see them only when we’re good and ready. Even if we scroll past our own post, we don’t have to worry about seeing the likes, because they’re on mute.
Now of course each social media site is different, so it would be hugely complex to design a program that could do this globally, but hey if you’re reading this and can design a way, I know a lot of people that would pay for an app to do this!
So this is an interesting idea, because it allows the likes to still come through, they just don’t show up for a dictated amount of time. For instance, what If you could choose not to see likes for 24 hours, or a week. Maybe longer.
Even as I write this I think “What’s the point, you’re still regularly seeing likes”. I feel like the delay would allow the work to breathe without instant validation/rejection. That it would give me, the creator, time to sit with the work on it’s own. I wonder then what my relationship with the “Likes” would be if there was a decent delay. Would I feel more comfortable taking chances knowing I’d likely not be thinking about if for a while anyhow.
It should be mentioned that I personally would not want to mute or delay comments on a post. Reason is, I feel that comments are something that should respectfully be replied to and in a timely fashion. If someone takes the time to write a response to me, I want to respond back. For myself, comments don’t happen too often anyhow and I don’t find myself counting how many comments I get. It seems to be a “like” phenomenon.
For now, I need to some how train myself stop validating my work via “likes” and be ok posting things that get zero response. I have met people that in real life said “Oh I loved xyz that you post, keep it up” when none of that content got responses.
Here’s a challenge for myself, and even you the reader. Imagine that every post gets five “ghost responses”. A ghost response is an instance of someone liking the content, but only telling themselves in their own mind. That way, even if a post gets no visible likes or comments, I can assure myself in my mind that there were a few people silently nodding appreciation in their minds and encouraging more work.
Originally published at hallsemporium.tumblr.com.