The Things We Hate To Like: Lend Me Your Ears

Do you remember when ‘Like’ used to mean something?

The Things We Hate To Like: Lend Me Your Ears

No, not this Like. Like, the other like?

It meant you liked something. A boy. A girl. Sunshine. Pugilism. A baby farting. Purple eye shadow. Making lists.

It meant something was pleasing to you. The thought of it made you feel good, or at least moderately less shitty than you were feeling before you either had it, or thought of it. It was without exception a positive reaction to something.

It did not mean ‘I’m here’, ‘I agree’, ‘I’m forced to acknowledge this even though I’d really rather not’, or, horrifically, ‘Sorry your mother died’.

Sure, some social media platforms have taken steps (belatedly – in fact, so belatedly, that thumbs-up themselves failed to notice, and thus remain stubbornly and immovably in the upright position) to address this on a half-assed basis.

But no matter what Facebook and other social media giants do with the  introduction of symbolic thumbs, stars, plus signs, hearts, smiley faces, weepy faces, frowny faces or speech bubbles, it’s still nothing more than a scale of woefully retarded human experience which doesn’t accurately represent any of what people want to say.

The Things We Hate To Like: Lend Me Your Ears

Social Media Regression

And yet, we are constantly being asked day after day to fit painfully square pegs into round holes, by being asked for these painfully restricted reactions to things.

Ten years ago, could you have imagined a world where you were asked 100 times a day to indicate whether or not you liked something?

Outside of being a professional critic, a food taster, or a small child, could you have envisioned a time when your sole contribution to humanity would be to vote for your favourite?

Aren’t you glad we live in that time now? Does it remind you of anything?


Picture the scene. You are 5 years old. You have been forced to spend the day with your Great-Aunt Gertrude. She does not know you very well.

Great-Aunt Gertrude:  What is your favourite colour, child?

5-Year-Old You: Purple.

Great-Aunt Gertrude: No, that’s incorrect. The last time we talked, you said it was yellow.

5-Year-Old You: I like pink sometimes. And green.

Great-Aunt Gertrude: That won’t do at all. You have to pick one.

5-Year-Old You: [crying] I don’t want to pick only one.

Great-Aunt Gertrude: Stop snivelling. I already bought you this yellow plastic raincoat, and you’re going to like it.

5-Year-Old You: And so ends my childhood.


Now, then. Who cares, I hear you not asking at all? What’s the point in getting ranty about social media reactions, when nice people are just going out of their way to be polite to other nice people? Isn’t this the only thing right with the Internet?

It’s because, as was pointed out by an astute commenter on Facebook Is Sniffing Your Bottom, if someone is offering you a service for free, then you are the product. The social media reactions currently available don’t suit us, because reactions which would better suit us, would not suit advertisers.

We would all be far better off with a button saying ‘I hear you.’ Because when it all comes down to it, social media is just a platform upon which people say things to be heard, and other people respond in order to acknowledge that they’ve heard it. It’s not about communication, or interaction. It’s about broadcasting and acknowledgement.

And here, look. The button for ‘I hear you’ would be so easy:

The Things We Hate To Like: Lend Me Your Ears

The trouble is, you see – not for you, but rather for them upstairs – that “I hear you” wouldn’t feed algorithms with information regarding whether people react to certain keywords positively or negatively. It only tells them that people are communicating, and they already know that. And it doesn’t sell anything for them, let alone advertising.

I’d still like to start a campaign for an ‘I hear you’ button across all social media platforms. It could even be amazingly flexible, and change to ‘I see you’ for Instagram and its buddies. I mean, that shows some pretty impressive flexibility already, amirite?

What about you? Does ‘Like’ suit your needs? How about +1? Or do you wake up every day hoping in vain for a ‘Shut Up’ button (which could be applied on WordPress in general, and on this blog in specific)?

  98 comments for “The Things We Hate To Like: Lend Me Your Ears

  1. June 16, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Ok, so I didn’t ‘like’ this post. But I still liked great aunt Gertrude…

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

      You shouldn’t. She gives horrible presents, and slobbery kisses with a hint of whisker.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. June 16, 2016 at 7:54 am

    A “Shut Up” button, and its corollary “Go To Hell” switch would be welcome additions on some of the spam I receive (much of it for breast enlargement; as a 67-year old man, my breasts are plenty enlarged already, thank you!), but I would never dream of shutting you up. This little endeavor of yours has been lightening my day since I discovered it about a year ago, and I share it regularly with my writers’ group. By the way, my daughter bought a DNA kit for Fathers Day, and it revealed that I am 38% Irish, so WHAZZUP, SISTAH?!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I’m on board with the ‘Go To Hell’ switch, Jack. In fact, I’m so on board I’m already charging admission. Thank you for not shutting me up. I’m more thankful for you than for my own sake, truth be told. I can’t tell you what happened to the last guy who tried. And that is the most unusual Father’s Day present I have ever heard of, so kudos to your daughter – although I’d say there are families out there for whom it might send mixed messages!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. June 16, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I certainly hear you, Tara, cos Like drives me scattso.
    It’s interesting how it fits so well with that other word that was banned from our vocab as kids by our mother and that was ‘nice.’ She argued that ‘nice’ was so over-used it basically meaningless. We could only use it once a month or so and had to be creative in how we did that! ‘That’s a deas mess you’ve got me into.’ Half a century on, Big Bro will whisper to me in a soony sawny voice about something insipid: ‘that’s nice.’
    I think you are doing a mother with Like so I’m beating drums and whacking my pillow in glee, like.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:30 am

      My Mum hated ‘nice’ too, Jean. It was also semi-banned in my house. I love the idea of your brother ‘nicing’ you to this day, he sounds like a hoot. Perhaps I’ll be the same with ‘like’ a few decades down the line…


  4. June 16, 2016 at 8:32 am

    When I hear the words, ‘I hear you’ I immediately think what the person really means is, ‘shut up so I can tell you what I think’. Whereas ‘like’ on Facebook really means ‘I don’t care enough to make a comment but I want you to think I’m paying attention even though I’m not… oh look over there, a farting baby!’

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:32 am

      That kind of ‘I hear you’ sounds awfully antagonistic, that’s true, Kathy! In Ireland anyway, it just means a kind of solidarity, or agreement. Perhaps a more succinct ‘Yip’ would do the job. Although look what happened when something succinct turned into something apathetic already on FB!


  5. June 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

    How about adding a sort of gallic shrug, which means ‘I sort of accept what you’re saying – or the situation – even though I don’t necessarily agree, but I’m keeping my powder dry for something that really matters’? Making such a bold emotive statement as Facebook insists, sometimes has me backtracking and wishing there was a ‘tone’ button to accentuate or diminish the emoticon. My daughter uses almost the same list of emotion symbols in her class of boys with autism and hearing difficulties. Interesting…?

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Oh, I LOVE the idea of a gallic shrug, Sarah. Except some people just don’t get the notion of a shrug at all. Part of the internet’s overall inability to get irony or nuance. And it is fascinating that the online gamut of emotions has similarities to the range used for people with communication difficulties. Says it all really.

      Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      Hahaha! ‘I sort of accept what you’re saying – or the situation – even though I don’t necessarily agree, but I’m keeping my powder dry for something that really matters’? That right there is so awesome. It’s my happy today. Thank you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 16, 2016 at 9:43 pm

        Argh! I want to ‘Like’ you, Sarah, and Tara’s previous comment too, as a thank you for saying you enjoyed my comment, but now I’m in a flummox! I’m such a polite Brit…!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. June 16, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Shut up!! I don’t like it…I love it 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sue Bridgwater
    June 16, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I’ve clicked Like on this one (!) because, as so often, your post is witty, well-written, has its finger on the button, and yes I agree with it. I’ve noticed for myself that if I Like a page on FB, then I get ads for anything that can be vaguely by a huge stretch of an excuse be made to seem ‘related.’ I block them. Goodreads ‘Recommendations’ are similar, I enter that I’ve read a liberal theologian and I get recommended fundamentalist rubbish, I don’t read it. I’m 68 and increasingly mobility impaired as the years go by. The social and academic research facilitation of the WWW is going to be more and more vital to me. I haven’t the energy to fret too much about the rubbish.
    Off to Share your post, I usually share them for the reasons listed above. Thanks for the regular dose of ‘try looking at it this way.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

      I’d have removed the Like button from this post, Sue, but that would defeat my sole purpose in life, which is to be confusing and ironic (but not in the Alanis Morissette way), so I had to leave it in. It’s just coincidence that it also suits my neediness to be told that people like my stuff. Total coincidence.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sue Bridgwater
    June 16, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Reblogged this on Skorn.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. June 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Now a “Shut Up” button I could get behind. Or even better a “Get Off the Bloody Internet” button. Though I fear I would use it on myself. God I hate Facebook

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 11:00 am

      I can get behind a GOTBI button, Donna. It’s even pronounceable as an acronym, which means it has a very bright future ahead of it. But perhaps the danger is not so much in using it on ourselves, rather in it becoming meaningless by being used for everybody, for everything. Especially on Mondays in January.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. June 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Never shut up, dah-link! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 11:01 am

      But my instinctive need to rebel means I need to disobey orders, which means I–


  11. June 16, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    I’d like some passive aggressive buttons, like ‘I love how you felt the need to post this’.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. June 16, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I need a button that says, “I didn’t really read your post, but an liking it because you’re a nice person and I want to make you feel better about yourself.”

    Liked by 2 people

  13. June 16, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    There is a line in a Paul simon lyric (Crazy Love, vol. II) that goes: ‘Well, I have no opinion about that’ – that i the button I want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      That’s mad, David. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have an opinion about something. Although it was probably during a football match.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. June 16, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Oh no! It was an automatic reflex – jus pressed ‘liked’. Problem is I do like what you wrote and totally agree. What a brilliant idea about the ‘I hear you’ sign -which in many cases the like button means. The first time a blogger had sad news I didn’t press like as it went against all my instincts – I obviously did not like the bad news for them! However I wonder if many of us don’t think of it as a ‘hear you’ button too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      Caught in my trap, Annika! Haha! Just kidding. There was no trap, unless you meant it ironically, in which case we’ve got ourselves stuck in a circular argument from which there is no escape. So I’ll just say, I hear you. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. June 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    I think you have something there Tara. Why are there no ‘You know, I’m not sure if I like this or not ‘ buttons. It could be a “so-so” box with a picture of a half full glass of water or carton of eggs.

    It’s kind of like the annoying questions that one finds on employment applications:

    “Choose the answer that best describes you:

    A) I will be a virtual slave to the company and my boss and will never ever question his/her superior decisions, even if harmful. Will work overtime at a moment’s notice, for free and without complaint. Will cheerfully submit to a tongue lashing whenever he/she needs to vent. Agree to pay reductions if product is not selling well or the boss wants a new toy.

    B) I am a lazy slob who will slack off every chance I get in addition to stealing from the company.”

    One could write a whole post about the asinine things one is forced to agree to on apps these days.


    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 10:50 pm

      How about a fence button? As in, I’m sitting on this firmly, and am very happy to remain here, thank you very much? Although, I’m not sure what putting a fence on a job application would mean… maybe some sort of ‘meh’ indication would be better…

      Liked by 1 person

  16. June 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    We’re all contributing our faves here (Ms. Sparling, you personally are one of my faves). How about an emoticon of a man pushing a boulder uphill? We can animate them so they either don’t move, move a little uphill or a little downhill when you slide the cursor over them. After all, reading FB posts is such WORK, you know? I’m not sure that I can offer much beyond “you got me a little closer to the hilltop with this” or “damn, that was so bad now I have to start over”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Well, Will (I’ve always wanted to type that) – after a comment and compliment like that, you’re one of my faves too. I will campaign for your most excellent boulder immediately. And it’ll be no effort at all. Honest. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ali Isaac
    June 16, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    I hear you, Tara! But I think we should actually go one step further… remove all reaction buttons completely. Gasp! Pick yourself up of the floor and grab yourself a brandy, while I explain.

    If there were no reaction buttons, people would have to do one of two things; comunicate meaningfully by commenting, or moving on. Imagine that…. actually COMMUNICATING on social media platforms. Is it even possible? Or passing by without commenting, if you have nothing worthwhile to add. It would certainly be more honest.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 16, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      What???????????? Not react??????????

      Hang on a sec, there, Ali. I’m looking for the WTF button but I can’t find it…. seriously though. If I can’t react to your stuff on social media, how am are the people I’m legitimately stalking going to tell me from the people who are hoovering up all their stuff without admitting it? Hmmmm??

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac
        June 17, 2016 at 1:12 am

        Oh I’d really love a WTF button!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. June 16, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I clicked the like button at the end of the post, but I won’t anymore. I know what you’re doing; it’s that reverse psychology thing, isn’t it? Tell someone not to think of an elephant and they do the opposite, or something like that. I don’t know, I’m not as brainy as you.

    I always click like in reply to comments as a shorthand way of saying ‘I think these comments have run their course.’ Without it, there’s a risk you end up in a Japanese politeness contest where two people don’t know when to stop saying goodbye.

    And the number of times I’ve read tragic blog posts and you dont know what to say and can’t click ‘like’ because it’ll make you look as if you ‘like’ hearing about someone’s leg being chopped off. Maybe a ‘take a chance’ predictive text system could be used where you click a letter and the software automatically generates a comment. The letter f would have to be excluded though.

    Example: Oh god, got me leg chopped off today.
    k . . . eep going, you’ve still got another one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 16, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Hahahaha!!! I want that, Chris. Predictive comments. It’s ingenious. You don’t know how brainy you are. It would save so much time. Time I could spend reading other people’s posts without acknowledging them. Wouldn’t the world be a brighter place for it?

      And you’re right, it is reverse psychology, only in the opposite way from the way you thought of before switching it around, if you get my meaning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 17, 2016 at 5:23 pm

        I do get your meaning, which is a euphemism for no, I don’t get your meaning until, strangely, I hover a mirror over the text.

        And notice I ‘liked’ your comment. Just can’t kick the habit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 17, 2016 at 7:08 pm

          And I had to like your comment to avoid an abrupt end to jovial banter. Now I am in a black pit of despair.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. June 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I see what you mean. I hear you and I like it!

    Does that get me in trouble?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. June 16, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    I’m pickin’ up what you’re putting down here but I do like the likes. They’re useful. And I’d love a “shut up” button but I’m too polite to use it. (Online. Too polite online. Let’s just be clear about that.) Also, I don’t use facebook and hate that thumb. It looks wicked stupid. Do they still have a thumb?

    Huh. Good point about being asked numerous times a day whether or not we like something. That would be an interesting day. And by interesting, I mean painful. (For the person asking me…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 17, 2016 at 9:40 am

      They still have the stupid thumb, Sarah. They added a pile of new reaction buttons, and hid them behind the same stupid Likey thumb. It won’t be long before we’re asked which our favourite thumb is… (In case you’re asking, it’s my left.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 17, 2016 at 6:33 pm

        I don’t want to know why it’s your left. But thanks for sharing. *thumbs up* LIKE!

        Related: Your post should be called “Funny Girl” with a cartoon image of Barbra Streisand.

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 17, 2016 at 6:35 pm

          Bloody hell! Blog. “Your BLOG should be called…” *sigh* I hate typos. Almost as much as like thumbs. Almost.

          Liked by 1 person

          • June 17, 2016 at 7:09 pm

            I can’t aspire to the grandeur of the Barbara, but I’ll take both meanings on either side of the typo and gladly. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  21. June 17, 2016 at 2:50 am

    I read ya.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. June 17, 2016 at 4:52 am

    I did it again. I read the post and then absent-mindedly clicked the “like” button on my way past as I made my way down to the comments box. I do this automatically, and it’s really annoying. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read some heartbreaking post about someone’s cat being flattened by a steamroller or something and then clicked the “like” button without even realizing I’ve done it. I then have to rush back to rescind my “like” and hope that nobody has noticed. I didn’t know social media platforms were analyzing my “likes” to see which key words I respond to. I did wonder why I kept getting all those steamroller ads, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 17, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Which is worse though? Liking the dead cat, or rescinding that like? Now there’s a philosophical question to stump the average Millennial. And seeing as you and I are, I believe, on the wrong side of that generation, there’s no hope for us at all. We should probably form a political party.

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm

        You may be on to something, Tara. The question of liking or rescinding a like for a dead cat is a bit of a poser with no good answer, and posers with no good answers is precisely what we’d need to start a political party.

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm

          That’s the best goddamn manifesto I ever heard. Bun for Dictator.

          Liked by 1 person

          • June 17, 2016 at 3:28 pm

            Glad I can count on your vote, Tara. Of course, when I’m dictator, I’ll be able to count on everybody else’s vote too given that I’ll have 100% approval rates in elections. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  23. solsdottir
    June 17, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    How about something for those “if you liked me you’d share this” posts? I want to suggest a two-by-four but that’s kind of hostile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Maybe a spatula would be less combative?


    • June 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      The only thing that would do for those would be a banner that popped up and said — no, SHOUTED — “Eat shit, muthafucka.”

      Liked by 2 people

  24. weebluebirdie
    June 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Shit. I pressed ‘like’ before the irony had a chance to slap me in the face. Missus at the Department of Speculation and I have a thing about devising more appropriate emoticons. You’ve probably seen our rantings – I know you go there, that’s how I got here! She does a mean Elvis emoticon; complete with quiff and curling lip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 17, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      I’ve seen you over at the Block of Tenderlation, and I’m delighted to make your acquaintance, Birdie. I feel a burning desire to see this Elvis emoticon immediately and appropriate it instead of my own face. Do you think that might be possible?

      Liked by 1 person

      • weebluebirdie
        June 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm

        Oh yes, though Missus will probably make a small charg. Herr usual fee involves copious amounts of coffee and cake!

        Liked by 2 people

  25. June 18, 2016 at 12:25 pm


    Uh huh, Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. June 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Visuals would be handy. I’m certain a little potato waffle button would be popular on my blog. I’m so old skool, I remember when ‘like’ was used in woeful impersonations of characters from Brookside. Know wharra mean, liiike? So, how about a little Cannon & Ball button for those Caaaalm-daaaahn-liiiiiike moments. Tell someone to calm the jets and indulge in some casual stereotyping at the same time. Yay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 18, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      Is that not licccchhhhe as opposed to like? Great for clearing the throat, not so much for expressing the kind of superficial emotion demanded by social media. I am intrigued by the potato waffle. Is it because it’s awaffley versatile?

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 19, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        Click them, cut them, paste them, copy them…awaffley versatile. Know warra mean liickkke. Liiiiiiick. Lhhhike. See – told you I was woeful at it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm

          Not in the slightest. A bright, trite future in advertising awaits. I hope you get the soup account.


  27. June 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    As so often, TS, you hit the nail right between the ears. I have FBd this. I wonder how many people will Like it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 21, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Lots, John, I’d imagine. Didn’t your FB friends have their irony receptors surgically removed before login? Mine did.


  28. June 20, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    I think I tend to use the like button as an, ‘I hear you.’ An, ‘I came, I saw, I read,’ button. I think the other stuff is just weird. Like the idea of an I hear you button though.



    Liked by 1 person

    • June 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      If only we could convince the social media giants that an ‘I hear you’ button would sell stuff, MT, maybe we’ll get one. Hearing aids, perhaps?


  29. June 24, 2016 at 8:27 am

    So you don’t want people to hit that like star?

    I’m confused.


    Liked by 1 person

    • June 24, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Just soars off the irony scale, doesn’t it, Psycho? My work here is done 😁


      • June 29, 2016 at 8:36 am

        So how am I supposed to let you know that I didn’t completely detest something?

        What, you expect me to write a comment for every one of your posts where I can articulate my thoughts in detail?

        Are you out of your potato-powered brain (Irish people are potato powered, right?)?

        Am I also supposed to start walking the 10 minutes from my house to the shop instead of driving, you barbarian?

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 29, 2016 at 12:05 pm

          Yes, we are potato powered, but by artisan potatoes, which are very, very expensive. So we will require your visits and your clicks in order to generate the necessary narcissism to grow these unfeasibly hip, artisan potatoes. It’s all very simple, really. I don’t understand why people have problems grasping it.
          And yes on the walking. Walking is the new driving, didn’t you hear?

          Liked by 1 person

  30. June 27, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    This is entirely and painfully true. The authenticity of ´liking´ has somewhat lost its flavour these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. July 5, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Oh, I’d like to join the campaign for an ‘I Hear You’ button, and a ‘Shut Up’ button. And a ‘Get Over Yourself’ button. A ‘Don’t be So Cryptic Button.’ Maybe we need to start a whole new social media platform…

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 6, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Great ideas, Helen – a campaign for honest social media (like those things in the olden days… what were they called… oh, yes. Conversations). There could be a whole range of cryptic buttons, especially for attention-seekers, false hopemongerers and passive aggressors. Not to mention the “Nobody Actually Believes This” button.

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm

        Oh yes. That one should be in bright red, and make a ‘raspberry’ noise when struck.
        Gosh, yes, I remember conversations…

        Liked by 1 person

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