Thursday, December 30, 2010

Are You an Applause Addict?

Musing about our social interactions with each other, no matter what form they take.

Today I found myself re-reading a comment on my Facebook status and wondering if I had clicked "like" on it. (I cannot tell on my iPhone because it does not have all Facebook functions.)

I want to affirm others and acknowledge their support because I appreciate when others do that for me. I don't always succeed because of distractions, limited time and Facebook glitches. However, I knew I'd gone over the edge when I briefly wondered if I could "like" that someone "liked" my status. 

"Like" - that seemingly innocuous thumbs-up under Status - has recently been added under every Comment as well. Sometimes I didn't even know the person, yet my morale was boosted by a stranger's affirmative "like" after one of my comments. It is vaguely reminiscent of Sally Field's oft-mocked Oscar acceptance speech: "You LIKE me."

Do you pay more attention to status updates based on the number of likes or comments? One friend dismisses status updates as "mind games." Another rolls her eyes at the "nauseatingly cute" updates of one friend or the patronizingly intellectual remarks of another. Some people rant or preach, others bore, a few seem desperate for attention. Still others compete with funny, controversial or thought-provoking quotes.

Except it's not a competition.  Sure, everyone likes to win first place, front of the line, Top Dog status. Problem is, human nature is prone to one-upmanship, comparisons and judgement. We have raised a generation of "American Idol" voters who feel its our right to say who is or is not worthy. Ironically, Facebook began this way, comparing one sorority co-ed to another. Now, with its Likes and Comments and listing how many friends each of us have, the entire social media experience can send even the more mature adults among us back to adolescent emotional reactions.

Back in the day, did you worry about popularity? I don't remember being conscious of it in high school other than being able to point at others who I thought were popular. At least that's how I remember it now. Popularity really depends upon that fickle and unstable measurement of Comparison.

Ah, but isn't this whole subject really about love? Everyone has an innate need to be acknowledged, known and loved. We want to make a contribution, to be capable, wise or funny. We long to be accepted, to have our value affirmed by others.

Are you not happiest, most content and beautiful when you feel loved? Victor Hugo, French poet and author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame said,
"Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved."
Facebook can be one tool people use to communicate and seek that love. Sadly, some gauge their fragile value based exclusively on this fickle arena of public opinion.

Depending solely on others for our sense of self worth can, at best, be a roller-coaster ride and worse, can be emotionally crippling. This escalates when a competitive nature drives you to constantly measure yourself against the stature of others. It can motivate us to lay aside personal preferences or even moral values as we desperately seek acceptance, applause or affection.

Some are so desperate, they will simply settle for any kind of attention, like the person who acts out because even negative attention is better than no attention.

Many other authors have written great volumes about self worth and loving yourself. While they are knowledgable and well-spoken, and I grant a healthy self-concept is a necessary part of a balanced emotional life, self-acceptance alone isn't the answer. In fact, unguarded self-love can leave a person arrogant, socially unaware or relationally blind.

There is no other place or person I have found more healing than the words of the one who made me. The one who saves me from all this roller coaster, comparative, destructive, competitive jockeying-for-position and offers complete, unqualified acceptance and unconditional love. Who better to know our value than the one by whom we were created?

The psalmist, David writes,
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.
So my Creator knows everything about me, past, present and future, and chooses to love me because that was the plan from eternity past. However, as Victor Hugo says, I need to "be convinced." There are days when I screw up, my emotions collapse, depression descends and everything is black. And there are many days I still think my actions and behaviour either earn love or disqualify me from it.

However, in the book of Romans, the apostle Paul says,
"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins..None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us."  from Romans 8
And now in my opinion this is the best, most convincing part:
"I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us."

Not even Facebook

Not how many likes or friends I have. Nothing separates me from love. Be convinced. Believe the truth. You ARE liked. You are loved. God has chosen to be your friend - the only friend who will never leave you, forsake you or unfriend you.

Put THAT in your Status and Like it!


If you want to read more about what Paul writes in Romans 8, 
click here: 
or the Psalmist's wisdom about our creation in Psalm 139, 
click here:

What are your thoughts and experiences? Talk to me!


  1. I like this post. ;)
    Great thoughts and oh, how I agree with that Victor Hugo quote. I love Ephesians 1, '... wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.' If one has that, one has everything.

  2. Lots of food for thought here. We often do tend to worry more about the 'status' than the reality

  3. Great post! I don't do Facebook too well. Maybe I care too much about what others think about my statuses, so I don't 'play'. ;) Your post made me so aware of how encouraging the words in the Bible are. I 'like' it!

  4. Thanks for that other scripture, Cheri. Always a good reminder. Yes, Tracy, very true. Aneta, thanks for stopping by. Thank you all for your kind remarks.