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Your field guide to the many “likes” of Facebook

Okay, guilty as charged.

You probably don’t need Wolf Blitzer to tell Jon Stewart’s writing team to tell your coworker to eventually tell you that the interwebs are now the primary eye glue of our society. I personally get the distinct feeling when I try to leave Facebook these days that I’m unplugging myself bit by bit from it, yanking (a series of) tubes out of myself one at a time like I just took the red pill. TV news is now something I watch occasionally, just to see how long it takes them to pick up on what my friends and I have been posting (and tweeting, and blogging) about for the last few days. Movies are forced to resort to ancient gimmicks from the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras (3D! Giant screens!) to keep people bothering to show up. Andy Warhol’s infamous 15 minutes is now the length of your YouTube video, and now, quite literally the length of your fame. And it all resets every morning. It’s beautiful.

Leading the charge of time suckers were the social networking sites, the stickiest of the sticky icky online opiates. “Stickiness” is industry jargon for a site’s ability to keep visitors unable to leave their site, exactly like flies in a, you should pardon the pun, web. It’s why Facebook’s big enough to have an IPO and then watch it crash and burn almost immediately, just like a real corporation! And one of the main ways they’ve done that is… the Like.

The Big Blue Thumb. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. If Zuckerberg et al ever figure out a way to monetize Facebook and send someone a small check every time they get, say, 10 likes, children would starve from lack of attention. The Like is pure genius, because it gives us all what we crave most: a public opinion. Used to be you had to get on the net and find a small niche of people who shared your specific obsessions in order to approve something, Gladiator-style. Now you can validate your entire world in the time it takes to scroll down.

This is a thing.

The only problem with this system, even with comments now added, is that it’s still pretty vague, like those horrible smile-like grimaces Caucasians like to give ourselves when we pass each other in the parking lot. Yes, you gave what I said a thumbs-up, but did you mean it? And if so, how much? Here’s my handy field guide to the different kinds of Facebook Liked, and what those thumbs may be up. (To.)

The Call of Duty. You’re busy. Busy busy busy. We all are in this economy. You don’t have time to check up on everyone’s life. So just get on that friends list and just spray and pray, bitch, spray and pray. Cover the area like a first-person shooter of attention, or Johnny Appleseed helping to grow self-esteem. With everyone you’ve filtered out, it should only take about two minutes; this handy method lets you prove to the ones you love that you’re actually paying attention. The least possible attention.

The Thumb Hug. Let’s face it, it’d make for a pretty boring “user experience” if every comment said “Woohoo!” or “Yay!” or “Suck it, rival sports team!” So just “like” the original post and move on. Your cousin can sleep well, knowing you approve of her cat feeling better. THE POWER OF THE INTERNET.     

The Invisible Hater. Mr. Elected Official You Have Never Liked is clearly ruining this great country every time he remembers to breathe. Yet your set of facts you never checked is now being challenged by someone else and their opposite set of facts they never checked. What’s worse, all of Mr. Elected Official’s sheeple are liking his comment, because they don’t even have the time to copy and paste incredibly disturbing and intentionally misleading statistics. Which is exactly why everyone is poor.

It has become sentient.

The Drinks All Around. Yes! Everyone agrees with you that it’s good you don’t have cancer. Now spray every one of their congratulatory comments with likes, just like a bottle of champagne right in their adoring little faces. This will have to do until Zuckerberg gets around to devising “chest bump” and “brofist” buttons.

The Lynch Mob. That thing that celebrity just did was horrible. You agree, don’t you? Show of hands! Or thumbs! Who thinks they’re horrible? For extra likes, say something extra inflammatory, such as “I will buy her the knife with which she castrates this sewer of faulty DNA.” You have now done your part for the betterment of society.

The Intervention. “I need to start that diet.” “I need to stop doing meth.” “I may be thinking about not rolling my Cheetos in meth and batter-frying them.” When everyone knows it’s true, but no one knows what to say, a quiet like will always suffice. We all love you. That’s why we’re liking you.

The Naughty Wink. You totally just had sex with him last night. Time for Vaguebooking in the musky afterglow. But he doesn’t want to squick all your friends out, either, with an overshare like “I love that thing you did with your pinky.” Oh and he’s married. So he throws you a like, as warm and hurried as that last kiss and as secret as the panties in his pocket. The world thinks he’s just being nice. But you know just how nice he can be.

The Polite Nod. When you have lost the thread entirely and literally, and you no longer know what the hell is going on, that’s where you drop in the Polite Nod. It’s your way of letting people know that you’re a) still listening and b) about to stop listening. It’s a conversation closer, like “Uh-huh” or “Look at the time” or “I gotta take this.”

It’s even worse when you have a product. SAD DOGGY NO

The Pity Thumb. Your brilliant blog post on Facebook likes is not getting a single bit of notice, and all your friends would be super sad for you if they knew how long you actually worked on it. So someone needs to step up and take one for the team. Even though they never actually read the post. “Well, at least one person knows what I’m talking about,” you say to yourself. Then begins the drinking.

The Double Down. I like what I said so much just now that I’m also liking it. I like me. I like my statuses and commentses. I’m socially networking myself, and it feels so good, I don’t care who sees it. Oh yeah. No one knows where my secret spots are on my ego better than me. I could like myself all night.

The Instant Creeper. What’s that? You have big tits and just changed your relationship status? You know I always liked you, right? Let me prove that in a way-too-literal fashion by liking this status change, and all your photos, and the past two months of wall posts I somehow never noticed before. You’re really funny! What’s your Skype?

The Dick Move. Wait. Are you liking the part where this bitch fucked my boyfriend? Or the part where I punched her in her slutty slut face? Or was it the part where the cops showed up? You’re not saying anything. Great. Now I gotta make a long Livejournal post to find out how you actually stand on this. Fucking Failbook.

The Mindfuck. Wait. Are you liking the fact that my dad died?