I’ve used various social media platforms since the dark ages of Friendster. However, in recent times the meaning, purpose and pursuit of “likes,” has gradually evolved from genuinely being interested in a given post to a form - and signification - of cultural capital. The more likes a given post gets, the higher the perception of its quality and social relevance.
But, what does a “like” on a social media post actually mean? While the intent of the like is to signify interest in a post, the like has become polysemic without proper recognition of such. For example, I have used likes as bookmarks for later reference. Others have used likes to strengthen a connection with other users. Some use them to signify that they have “watched” the material in some form or fashion (though, this does not always mean they’ve actually engaged with it.) Many posts on these forums seem to indicate that likes are a form of exchange of cultural capital to be returned “in kind.” In other words, “I’ll like your post in exchange for liking mine.” Others gamify likes in a coordinated fashion to show “popularity.”
As such, should likes or loops be given the honor of being the de facto fiat currency of social media? Do likes indicate true quality and engagement, or are they only indicators of mis-attribution of meaning or is it a manipulation of cultural capital? Or is it all three? This is an unmeasurable metric, of course. Should we closely examine the comments – a micro review of sorts – to understand a post’s quality?
This is not to suggest that liking a post is a malicious practice, but it is something we should consider when engaging the arts. After all, the Cats movie grossed 74.6 million dollars, which hardly indicates its quality.