Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

On ‘likes’, loves, and statistics

How I use the ‘like’ button on facebook:

‘oh, heres a cool picture. I’m happy for my friend.’
Press it.
’16 other people like this too, I wonder which of my friends liked this. Oh, I haven’t seen some of these names in years’..

How business use the ‘like’ button:

‘That last post did poorly. Post more things like the other thing everyone liked’.

In short, they use it like a fucking bombing statistic.

It’s interesting, all social media companies could remove public statistics tomorrow. But they don’t. In fact, they went through the trouble to build them in.

What does that say about us, as humans, when we value such ratings?

And what does it say about us, when we believe the likes amount to a higher level of quality?

Is it a low-level brain thing, built into us? Some deep quality control thing evolved to help us survive, being played out digitally. I’ve read something to that effect.

But what does it mean when businesses, poliical campaigns, and citizens tailor their version of success to it?

I think it means we end up much more homogenous.

Because ‘like’, is like a record purchase.

I’ve bought tons of records by bands over my lifetime. And the metric to the band and label is ‘record sold’.

But for those, no one can tell if I really liked it. bought it and was disappointed. Kind of liked it. Or LOVED it.

Truth is, I love very FEW of those records.

One could say the ‘share’ count could be quantifiable as a qualitative indicator of if someone liked it. But I may share a thing because I disagree vehemently with it. Or, because I know someone specific who may appreciate it. But rarely do I share something because I love it.

Honestly, the things I’m blown away by, I’m too blown away to even worry about quantifying it.

They just gain a place in my heart, and in my life.

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Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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