It’s an old distinction:
“So, I liked the steak? But, like, I didn’t love it?”
“Yeah no, I love my Uncle Sandy. But I don’t always like him.”
“I don’t like it. I love it, love it love it, uh-oh—so good it hurts!”
We understand the distinction, sure. But Facebook now makes us make the call between “Like” and “Love” sixty-five times a day—in public.
It’s not good for the soul—on either end.
I recently posted something pretty heartfelt about my daughter. Twelve people reacted, six women and six men. Five out of the six women pushed the “Love” button. All six men just pushed, “Like.”
Thing is, I know just what those boys were thinking!
I always feel a tiny bit self-conscious when I push the “Love” button. Seems like I’m going too far, gushing like that in front of everybody. Feels like people will peg me as a certain kind of guy: a gushy, gooey, overdo-ey kind of guy.
If I push “Love” every time I think a pal’s kid is cute, what am I going to do when that same kid graduates with honors, from middle school? Am I going to have to learn how to do GIFs at that point, in order to offer up a cheering cat, or some of that goddamn electronic confetti?
I have darker reasons for using “Like” rather than “Love.” Sometimes, I just don’t want to give the receiver the satisfaction.
Internal reaction: OMG, that jeep you got is so freaking cool and if my ship ever comes in that’s exactly what I’ll run out and get—same color, same everything!
Facebook reaction: “Like.”
And then there are those times when you can’t even allow yourself to push “Like,” you’re feeling so churlish about a friend’s good fortune. So you just scroll on by. In such instances, there should be a button called “Noted.” The graphic would be an icicle.
We are nervous creatures, emotional mollusks—able fully to fully reveal ourselves to a handful of people at best, good at covering up our hearts to protect us from the rest.
But over time, we unwittingly reveal our quavering little selves by all the things we “Like,” and all the things we don’t.
All the things we’ll admit we “Love,” and all the things we won’t.