Not “Liking” but Instead Liking

An exercise I began about ten days ago is no longer clicking the “like” button on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites.

It isn’t that I stopped liking content, but rather that I didn’t like how clicking the “like” button was nearly automatic and yet entirely devoid of human interaction.

Instead, I am commenting when I like something. Sometimes the comment is a very brief “nice picture.” Sometimes it is a more elaborate thought. And sometimes it is the simple message, “I like this.”

Yes, this means some trade offs. I do not choose to spend time commenting on everything I read. This means I do not read as many updates, posts, etc as I might otherwise. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Often, a comment I leave is responded to with a follow up comment. No matter how brief, there is at least that sense of interaction, of meaningful connection. I find it much more fulfilling than seeing a “like”.

Let me clarify that I am not proscribing or advocating this behavior. There is no judgment call. It is simply a matter of me trying something new, seeing if I can make my social media experience more meaningful and satisfying – for me, not anyone else.

So far, I am enjoying this exercise and the results I have seen. Over time, I may reintroduce the occasional “like” but only as the rare indulgence in an otherwise healthy social media diet.

Visualizing Relationships

People relate to data in different ways.  I’m very much a visual learner and putting data in charts, graphs, or other sorts of illustrations help me understand, absorb, and put the information into context.  I’ve also found it useful to track data that is important to me.  Many people use tools like this – think of exercise logs to keep track of your progress towards fitness goals.  Several companies now provide software solutions that make it easier for people to tabulate whatever it is they want to tabulate, then turn it into graphs and charts.

Recently, I tried out an application from TouchGraph, a New York-based company that specializes in visualization tools and they created this Facebook application as an experiment to demonstrate the capabilities of their technology.  Other companies that provide other visual relationship applications include LinkedIn and  After entering your username and password – TouchGraph accesses your information only with your permission – they application generates a variety of charts to map the relationships of your Facebook friends. 

TouchGraph 100 TouchGraph 200 TouchGraph 300 TouchGraph 500 TouchGraph All

Here are thumbnails of increasing numbers of my Facebook friends, from my 100 “top friends” on the left (no explanation on what constitutes a “top friend” in TouchGraph’s scheme of things) to all of my more than 600 Facebook friends on the right.  I’m fascinated to watch how the groupings make small shifts as more people, and thus more relationships, are factored into the graphic.

TouchGraph 300 - Annotated

I also found it interesting just to observe how these relationships are mapped out.  Using the 300 friends setting, I found nine primary identifiable groups from which my relationships arise.  AMC Theatres was my first real job after being a newspaper delivery boy and I continued working with the company through university and even for several years after.  Needless to say, a lot of my connections were made there. 

One area that is missing is a significant number of friends from post-secondary school.  I changed schools twice en route to my degree, and only lived on campus for six months total, so my number of university friends is less than a dozen.

What’s also interesting to me is the California-centric nature of my contacts!  No surprise, I suppose, given that I grew up in the Bay Area and lived in Southern California several times.  But everyone to the left and above the dashed line is pretty much in California or else that’s where I originally knew them.

Anyhow, that’s more than you probably wanted to know about my life.  I found it interesting, though. 


Somewhere between Pride and Gluttony

I know pride is one of the seven mortal sins, so I’m going to try to write this entry in the least prideful way possible.  Going through my photos of food I’ve cooked this year, I thought there were several pretty pictures so I posted them all as a Facebook album.  When I was looking at the main page of the album, I was pretty satisfied with the way it looked.

2010 Food

Looks pretty professional, right?  Of course, looks can be deceiving!  But since they are all about food, I’m not sure if the sin I’m committing is more one of pride or one of gluttony.


Action Adventure Dream

Normally, I sleep without dreams, at least none that I remember.  But last night I had a rather intense dream that seemed to last a long while.  Perhaps because I’ve been thinking about my primary school days recently, combined with the question of adding and deleting people on Facebook, the dream took an odd form.

Set in an action/adventure genre along the lines of James Bond or various Hong Kong cop and mafia movies, in my dream I was (as an adult) working in some half-finished abandoned office building.  Several bad guys, all of whom had been bullies in my primary school, were after me, trying to kill me.  I had to fight back using nothing more than my gun, my fists and my wits.

I woke up before anything substantial happened, like stepping out of the cinema mid-film and not returning. 

Thinking more about it, I think the dream was partly influenced by the fact that I chose not to add a few suggested friends on Facebook who were people I don’t have pleasant memories of.  One in particular used to tease me in junior high school because my jeans were a bit short – I was growing taller quite fast – making fun of my “floods”, as he called them.

Yeah, not going to add him to my Facebook friends list.