One of my friends follows me on Instagram. He periodically goes through and likes everything I post, no matter what it is. I don’t know why, but it freaks me out a little bit to have someone go through and automatically like everything I post. If he individually liked every post, I think it would bother me less, but he always does it all at once so that I get this long string of likes. I don’t actually think he’s doing it just to bother me, but even if he isn’t, how do I ask him to stop if I don’t even understand exactly what the problem is?
That’s called “like bombing” — dropping by someone’s social media profile and liking everything in site — and some consider it a form of internet terrorism. Four hundred nearly simultaneous Facebook alerts can impair the operations of a crappy cell phone, or at the very least give rise to dangerously false hopes for the like-bombed party.
Thought maybe that new cat video finally earned you the viral fame you’ve yearned for ever since “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” first captured your heart?
Others see like-bombing as nothing more than digital flirtation, because nothing says “I Like You” than overwhelming your crush with figurative interpretations of those oh-so-hard-to-express feelings. You know better than I do whether the friend in question has amorous intentions.
And that line, the one right there between “flirting” and “stalking,” that sucker can’t be more than one pixel wide.
Either way, overusing like buttons creates a strange epistemological quandary for 21st-century humans, hipsters in particular. If I may take a moment to get my zen on, I ask: if you like everything, can you really like anything?
Various sources, mostly marketing firms, will tell you that social-media likes have value. Many economists disagree, and they’re probably right since they come armed with calculus, whereas marketing people come armed with designer eyewear and iPads. Common sense tells us that the only people for whom social-media likes have any worth are the media companies themselves, who use that user feedback for targeting advertising purposes. But, if online likes mean anything, then flinging them about willy-nilly ought to reduce whatever value they have to nil.
For those of us in the hipster business, this becomes especially vexing since our (arguably) greatest contribution to modern society has been a ceaseless drive for more meaningful and socially relevant lives. Undercutting that by blanketing our friends’ social-media pages in empty likes doesn’t fit in with those values, so I can definitely say that like-bombing is not cool from the hipster perspective.
I must conclude that the reason your friend’s behavior bothers you is because it means he doesn’t actually like any of your Instagram posts, not in the conventional sense of the word. His Instagram likes contain less activity than the average college freshman’s essay verbiage, which rightly bugs you. As for asking him to change, you might as well ask the sun not to shine. It won’t exactly be the end of life on Earth, but even if you get what you want, you probably will not like the result, namely a boatload of resentment over a trivial and undeniably commonplace occurrence.
Nevertheless, I have one word for all you like-bombers out there: