October 2, 2019

A Like Can’t Go Anywhere, But a Compliment Can Go a Long Way

Frank Chimero recently blogged about an interesting nuance of social media that I hadn’t considered.

He points out that positivity tends to be encapsulated into small, generic like” units, while negativity requires its own separate posts, and thus carries more visual and algorithmic weight.

As Frank puts it:

There is no feature for displeasure on social media, so if a person wants to express that, they must write. Complaints get wrapped in language, and language is always specific. This creates a situation similar to the Larry David stadium effect, where one heckler with incisive comments can block out the generalized applause of many more people. Specificity overrides vagueness…one negative reply literally takes up more visual space than tens of thousands of undifferentiated likes.

My take-away is that I should be more active about positivity on social networks—comments, compliments, and encouragement instead of just empty likes. This is not only a kind gesture, but it’s probably a better way to spend our time on social media…especially considering the alternative:

So let’s be more intentional about how we spend our time on these networks, and try to amplify the good instead of the bad. We shouldn’t be spending more energy replying to people we don’t like than reaching out to people we do. Frank again:

Otherwise, we are left with the skewed, inaccurate, and dangerous nature of what’s been built: an environment where most positivity is small, vague, and immobile, and negativity is large, precise, and spreadable.


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