The infamous like button - first created in 2005 and then popularized in 2007 at FriendFeed (later acquired by Facebook) is probably one of the worst inventions in the digital era.
Honestly, it needs to die.
I don’t think it was created with the intention to make users addicted, but I’m sure at some point, Facebook found out how much it benefits them.
Facebook is now worth around 60 billion. With its two-point-something billion users, there’s a lot at stake.
Obviously, Facebook will do anything it can to make its service as addictive as humanly possible. They have the means for it - they can hire the best psychologists and pour money into behavioral research. They will use every little tweak and trick to make their users spend more time on their platform.
Why wouldn’t they? The more time users spend on their site, the more ads they can sell and the more money the investors make.
You have to realize that it’s a money-making machine, and the users are the cattle. Those cattle are milked as much as possible to get the most out of them. The more accurate data Facebook can get from you, the better the targeted ads will be - the more money for Facebook.
Why do you think Facebook wants you to fill out all the details about your life and encourages people to share as much as possible? And why they make it extremely difficult to leave their platform?
These are rhetorical questions. However, watch “The Great Hack” for deeper insights from another angle. It’s a great documentary that exposes that some companies like Facebook are indeed really rotten from inside.
It’s a David vs. Goliath situation. A huge multi-billion corporation with an army of psychologists and researchers vs. a single regular user who has no clue about any of this.
It’s an unfair fight, but more and more little “David’s” are fighting back. I consider myself one of them.
It’s not that people are lazy or stupid spending their life’s valuable time looking at food pictures and mostly meaningless Insta stories made by others - it’s that these online services are created to be as addictive as possible. And without them understanding that or how their mind works, they are just like mice pushing a lever to get another hit of dopamine.
The “like” button is what changed everything. It basically provides an infinite amount of notifications and is the source of small dopamine hits. These small hits make the user feel a little “high” but the effects won’t last long, and soon they want some more - and more and more and more and more. There will never be anough “likes” or “hearts” to make anyone satisfied. But people don’t realize this - so they think they need more. It’s an endless chase without a finish line.
Another issue is that it causes users to compare themselves to other users. This comparison can cause anxiety, negative emotions, envy, and all that.
Creators may start to think their work is not good enough if they receive fewer likes than for their previous work or when someone else receives more likes.
There are just too many negative side-effects that come with the like button without any real benefits to the users.
The social media companies, of course, benefit from the like button a lot. It’s a massive driver for keeping people addicted to their service - which, as mentioned before - means more money for them. This is why almost every social media site uses it.
Of course, getting rid of the like button won’t most likely solve the widespread addiction problem, but it would be a start.
I think a great way to start is to simply not click any hearts or likes. Instead, call your friend that you like his/her pictures of the vacation or the cat - or mention it face to face. This is 1000 times more meaningful than any amount of digital likes.