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Did you like it or did you ‘like’ it?

by STEPHANIE WO Guest Writer

This article would have taken a much shorter time to write if I hadn’t been checking Instagram and Twitter for no reason while trying to think of how to word something. A habit that you and I most likely have in common is checking our beloved social networking sites so frequently that doing so defines our generation.

Behind the incessant need to check what’s new with our friends’ lives and have them like what’s new with ours is a result of the basic human desire of acceptance and belonging. Nothing fundamental has really changed from generations before us, and now – the only difference is how we go about fulfilling our natural desire to belong and be accepted by our peers.

Similarly, in his article “The New Greatest Generation: Why Millrnnials will Save us All”, TIME Magazine writer Joel Stein says that the behavior of millennials, or people born anywhere from 1980-2000 “is more a continuation of a trend rather than a revolutionary break from previous generations.”

With ever growing ways to check when someone has seen a post or message, we are becoming obsessed with the now. The ability for us to verify that people have seen something we posted takes social media to a new level by making everything seem like it is happening in real time.

With that being said, ‘likes’ have replaced our peers’ vocal acceptance of our pictures and words. As a result, all causal positive feedback has streamlined into the universal ‘like’ or in the Twitter world, a ‘favorite’. The value of a ‘like’ comes from the aforementioned desire of our peers to accept us.

It is common to post things for the approval of others and the satisfaction that approval garners.

“I remember freshman year whenever I got likes on a status I was all giddy and stuff,” says senior Matthew Dobromilsky.

Even companies know that the more ‘likes’ from consumers bolsters their image of popularity and appeal. Ironically, I have seen many advertisements advertising various companies’ Facebook pages and instructing consumers to ‘like’ them.

The development and success of social networking sites highlights the preferred method of communication for youths. All successes of inventions and developments lie in making its predecessor seem cumbersome and outdated. Social media sites such as Instagram and Snapchat do just that by making things such as face-to-face conversations seem like too much effort compared to a simple follow, like, or picture to renew or reinforce a friendship.

“Different social media is available for different things. Facebook is for big news and twitter is just for what you’re thinking at the moment. There’s something different for everything,“ says senior Emily Jones.

Our understanding of the power of a ‘like’, as well as our decadence when it comes to maintaining friendships, has created an ideal environment for social media to swoop in with the intention of saving us from becoming socially withdrawn. Unfortunately, these networking sites have only seemed to cause the opposite effect: what was once supposed to be a facilitator for communication seems to be completely replacing traditional ways we reach out to friends.

Senior Zach Levine says, “Well yesterday, I realized I hadn’t talked to one of my friends for a while. I just went on twitter and favorited one of his tweets, it was a funny tweet but at the same time it reminded him I still existed. Social media can provide us with external validation that we’re all still involved socially.”

Television shows such as “iCarly” and “Victorious” indoctrinate tweens into accepting technology and social media as a way of life as they grow up. Transitions between scenes in “Victorious” feature a smartphone updating a status while “iCarly” is centered around teenagers running a popular web show on the internet.

Even if you do not watch these shows, it is almost impossible to escape the slew of advertisements and frequent emphasis put on advancements in technology to solve our problems.

However, it is important not to blame social media users today for indulging in new technology that makes connecting with friends easier. Our ancestors most likely would have done the same thing had Snapchat been available during the Renaissance.

Scott Heiss, senior vice president of human intelligence for SparksSMG, says in Stein’s TIME Magazine article: “Can you imagine how many fricken Instagrams of people playing in the mud during Woodstock we would’ve seen? I think in many ways you’re blaming millennials for the technology that happens to exist right now.”

The bottom line is that yes, we like getting ‘likes’ because, well, it makes us feel liked. All we are doing is utilizing the technology available to us in order to do what we need to. If there is an easier way to reach out to a distant friend other than meeting up with them face-to-face, why not embrace it? Two options: hate ourselves for using what is available to us or accept that we are only changing with time as it goes on.

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