Towards the end of our long sojourn in Taiwan we befriended a lonely Canadian woman who taught a little English here and there, basically just hanging on from week to week before she returned to her parents’ home on the prairie. With too much time on her hands, she increasingly depended on social media for human connection. A trap into which she fell was checking earlier posts several times each day to see how many of her friends had liked something she had posted. I think that in these recent days of plague, I may have fallen into a similar trap.
I have a few “go to” internet places where I put things which others can “like” or “upvote”. The first is this blog. I post things about 5 times a week. They go up on the blog and a notification (with an attractive, subject-related photo) goes to Twitter. In the past week I’ve had email notes from a couple of friends and a phone call from another saying that they read and appreciate the blog. On the blog itself, though, there are neither comments, likes, nor evidence in the analytics section that ANYONE has gone to the page at all. I guess they must be getting it by email (or angelic messengers).
Another place is Khan Academy, where I answer learners’ questions in the fields of Grammar, US History, World History and Art History. If I respond to, say 50 questions a week, I might get replies saying “thanks” to 7 or 8. That’s polite. It shows both effort and appreciation. But I don’t garner a lot of upvotes. I’ve begun, when I see a question or another’s answer that is particularly good, to upvote and send a note saying that I’ve done so. I tell myself that I’m educating people in “upvoting”, but I fear it’s the wanting-to-be-liked trap.
(Image from Pettyson on Pixaby)
Then there’s Twitter. Enough said.
I’m generous with “likes” and “upvotes” because I find them easy to give. So easy that I regard them as almost meaningless. That being the case, why do I crave them so much?
David Alexander lives through these days of plague in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.