So Facebook went public last week. Now you can own a piece of the social networking website, as well as troll around on it, killing time. It was quite a success story: A bitter, self-loathing computer genius goes from creating sites to demean women to becoming one of the richest men in the world. For the record, I am basing all of my knowledge of the creation of Facebook on the movie.
When Cranky turned 13, she created a Facebook page. That’s adorable, I thought. She’ll friend her little group of classmates and they can post photos from the latest mixer or league dance. Imagine my surprise when I noticed a post on her page congratulating her on her 700th friend. Seven hundred friends? I’m not sure I know 700 people.
That’s when something occurred to me: Yes, Facebook is a wonderful way to stay in touch with college friends, see your brother’s vacation photos and learn how your godson did in his spelling bee. But on another level, Facebook fulfills that deep desire that left most of us scarred and bitter from high school: the desire to be popular.
There is no downside to it. All you know is that someone wants to be your friend. Sure, someone could refuse your friend request or defriend (unfriend?) you, but so what? You just stay focused on the positive: Look at all the friends you do have—hundreds! You are popular. Then when you start to develop a tolerance for that drug, Facebook takes it up a notch with a little thing called the ‘like’ button. You can like a person, a celebrity or a post.
According to Yahoo, Eminem is the most liked person on Facebook with almost 60 million ‘likes.’ He seems like a surprising front-runner. Can you threaten people into liking you? According to Facebook’s IPO information, the site generates about 3 billion likes and comments a day. That’s the thing about the like button. It’s not a ‘love’ button. It’s not overly enthusiastic. It’s easy to like someone or something. Plus, it’s safe. I don’t risk typos or court controversy. I can like the article my brother posted about John Huntsman. That doesn’t mean I don’t support Romney, or Obama for that matter. It’s like getting credit for a comment without making a comment at all. You’re just letting people know you care, and people seem to like that.