Like or thumbs up – no matter how you call it on any social network – a like still remains a like, even if it is not displayed as a thumb (as in the classic Facebook design, where it came from), but in in the form of green numbers, arrows or hearts. The number of likes under our photos can raise our mood and self-esteem, but from a psychological point of view, it’s not so simple. American researchers have gone far ahead of Europeans and have been studying the phenomenon of likes for the past four years. They found out a lot of interesting details related to approval on social networks.

The Essense of Like

Initially, Facebook assumed that the like would only serve to convey a message to the post author that you support it. It served for a quick transition to the desired content of your choice (similar to adding it to your “favorites”) and for a friendly pat, which symbolized positive feedback. Over time, the concept of like has expanded somewhat. It became appropriate to like not only the posts to which you want to give a positive connection but also generally express solidarity with the main idea and general support for the author’s virtual personality. 

This became a peculiar manifestation of empathy in the virtual universe since intonations, touches, and gestures on the Internet didn’t work. In addition, like is a little monetized. Sometimes in the literal sense – online media, large channels and groups live off the likes and show their impact on their number. Sometimes in a figurative – in the world of personal communication, like has become the currency of social capital. 

The more likes you give out, the more you get. It is interesting that to like and get it are two completely different actions in terms of significance. Likes are often put under the influence of momentary sympathy and only representatives of the older generation attach great importance to them at such a moment, sparingly distributing them. But getting a like is perceived by those who received it as an expression of appreciation and sympathy in the long run.

Psychological Impact

The more we like other people and comment on their content, the higher our social capital. However, such social capital only works on relationships with unfamiliar people. The closer the person we like is to us, the more damage is caused by the splashing of his messages and photos. In personal communication with people important to us, it is necessary to write personal comments with real emotions, and not replace them with faceless likes. 

Also, Internet etiquette quite clearly determines when it is appropriate to like (and dislike) in case of communication with media phenomena (a media phenomenon can also be a person who broadcasts to a wide audience, not just a group, channel or public). In this case, the like turns into not only a tribute to politeness and good taste but also the currency that you pay.