Half of our personality now lies in the virtual world. Are ‘likes’ are replacing common emotions of anger, happiness, solidarity or sadness

A few days ago, Bihar touched the social networking scene. If the government is to be believed, apparently youngsters can reach out to the officials and choose to either ‘like’ the policies and governance or could express their ‘dislike’ through their facebook page. In April this year, reports emerged out on the internet that Facebook was now going to employ the dislike button. Keeping up with times, we do know that, the tiny little button ‘like’ is in in fact an infallible business model that helps brands and businesses get insight into the consumer’s lifestyle: primarily the likes and dislikes. When we get into the more personal form of interaction, it’s surprising that likes are replacing most emotions. When 25-year-old Rizwan Mohammed posted about his late father, he didn’t expect a 235 people from his friends to ‘like’ his status. He is more composed now and understands that, it has become a form of solidarity. “It was upsetting to see that people like that my dad is dead. But I guess you can’t go by the literal meaning anymore. All those people were showing their support that way,” says Rizwan. When Dev Dutta’s relationship status went from single to in-a-relationship, it evoked as many as 300 likes from his 500-odd friends circle. A few months later when it went to ‘it’s complicated’, as many as 250 people liked that status too! Do these 250 people actually like that his relationship is on the rocks? A now-single Dev laughs and says, “I was really confused, so I never commented or said anything there. I didn’t know, if they are mean enough to like what is happening to me or if they are showing support. It’s funny now, but I was really hurting then.” It’s not all that different with Sneha Devulapalli either. The 17-year-old engineering student met with an accident recently and posted, “Met with an accident, bed-ridden.” 39 of her friends liked the status. “I am assuming that they feel bad for me and I take it as solidarity ‘like’,” she says cheerfully. Culture studies student, Suzzana Joseph notes, “The ‘like’ button is giving all our emotions the easy escape route, that’s how we are beginning to interact with each other. ‘Like’ is becoming a necessary obligation.” Like is perhaps first reflective of the ‘pop’ in society, tweens who have little respect for grammar and dish out sentences with more than three likes. Now ‘like’ is all inclusive.

Liking someone’s status, picture, and video takes less than a split-second, but if you’re still on the dial-up connection, it might take longer. However, with the ease of the button, it’s making us not think so much. Let’s just ‘like’ it, let’s store that emotion somewhere in the corner of our mind, to deal with later (or not, whatever suits).

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A cartoon by Cyanide and Happiness perhaps sums it all up, where a poor bloke by the fictional name of Danny Jones shares his feelings against child slavery. But Facebook reads Danny Jones likes Child Slavery, placing him in quite a problem!

Viral memes of African kids ooze satire: “So you mean to say that if you ‘like’ this picture, you’re helping me?”