The other day when I went out for dinner, I came across a group of college kids sitting on the adjacent table who exhibited a not so very different and all the more common group behavior. These kids might have been around 20 to 22 years old. The waiter was waiting patiently to take their order. But I am sure the waiter wasn’t surprised what took the kids so long to choose from the menu. This is because the waiter, like me, was busy observing the antics of these college kids. There was this one typical cool dude with spiky hair who was insisting upon his pictures being taken from different angles with different girls in the group, at times, by posing with a ‘V’ sign with his index and middle figure and at other times by holding two of his female friends closely by putting his arms around each of them. His expression said it all. I could actually hear his expressions talking out loud. I could imagine him thinking while he was maintaining the plastic grin on his face until the time his cheeks might have pained. This is what he might have thought:
“I will at least get 45 likes on this picture”. His grin broadened and his eye bulged out during another click when he might have been thinking, “These dudes will get so J when they see my mobile upload with Suzzy and Shena”. 55 likes guaranteed!!!
His grin just grew wider every time the camera flashed. The girls were trying to look their cutest best. They tilted their head slightly and winked upon being asked to say cheese for the click! The other cool dudes did not want to be left behind and took their turns in getting them clicked. The waiter was waiting patiently all along. This is because the waiter knew that they would ask him to take a group picture. After all how will the facebook album be complete without the group photo? After all the group picture fetches the maximum likes. After the group picture, the group finally obliged the waiter and placed the order. No sooner did the waiter disappear, each member in the group pulled out their cells and started with the mobile uploads coupled with the check-in and status updates. One girl in the group yelled! It was a typical yell of a 19 year old gets excited about everything in general and nothing in particular! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! She said, “Oh my God, see who liked my picture! Sahelllll! Oh my God” The other girl got emotional and hugged this excited girl! It was a big achievement after all! Getting the FB picture liked by the hottest dude of the college!
No sooner did their dinner arrive, many members from the group again pulled out their cell and started clicking pictures of the cuisine from different angles. A girl insisted upon her photo being clicked with the lemon ice tea! Another girl wanted her photo with cherry between her lips! The guy wanted his photo to be clicked with the sizzling brownie, maybe to earn some brownie point with some girls. In between taking pictures, they were conversing for a short while and eating as well I guess!
The sight was amusing. And one gets many chances to get amused these days. Mind you, this behavior is not only exhibited by youngsters in the age bracket of 15 to 25! People in the age group of 25 to 55 are no different! They give tough competition to youngsters in the race of getting maximum likes on their picture! It seems that one of the important motivating factors behind socializing at the coolest places is to add another album on Facebook and subsequently keep a tab on the number of likes one gets on each pictures.
I respect the genius in the Facebook team who came up with this idea of Facebook like! He may not have been a software engineer! On the contrary, I am sure that he may have been with a Major in Psychology with an astute economic vision. This is for the simple reason that he exploited the weakest psychological trait in-built in every human being. The weakness is the need to seek social acknowledgment and approval! The body language of thumbs up has been traditionally used to convey approval/acknowledgement! No wonder this feature of “Like” with the symbol of “Thumbs-UP” un-leased a new social phenomena by exploiting this inbuilt need of seeking the maximum approval/appreciation.
The other day I saw my two colleagues quarrelling bitterly! At first, I was worried. The fight looked so fierce. Upon intervening, I realized my worry was baseless! The fight started because one of them was very hurt as the other refused to “Like” her Facebook profile picture. I had a look of being a ‘Man of NO Words’.
The system of Face-Book likes has created an unwritten social obligation. It can be labeled as the “System of Mutual Likes”. If I like your picture, you should like my picture as well. By a natural corollary of this rule, if you like a person’s picture, and if he doesn’t reciprocate by liking your picture, you stop liking his picture!
I am not saying that I am entirely free of the influence of Facebook likes. Though I sincerely wish that I do get liberated of this psychological need of seeking social approval and socializing purely with the intent of socializing and not flaunting the fact that I socialize!