“You like me! You really like me!”

In 1984, Sally Field won the Oscar for Places in the Heart, and is often misquoted as saying in her acceptance speech, “You like me!  You really like me!”.  For decades, people have mocked that speech because it seemed to be dripping with narcissism and an unhealthy need for validation from others.  

If only Sally just had something like a button which the audience could press to say they like her. In 1984, that was ridiculous. But in 2011, that’s life.

It’s the “Like” button on Facebook.  A virtual scoreboard bringing all the sensibilities and social discernment of a Jr. High cafeteria into adulthood and serves as the very basis of Social Media.  We can see what other people like so we can like that too.  Or “digg”, or “+1”.

Now, pretty much everything on the planet has a like score.  35 million people like Eminem, but only 33 million like Lady Gaga.  Ooh – smarts!  22 million like Vin Diesel.  Really?  But only 21,203 like the “Like Button” on Facebook.  Hmm – ironic.

And driving by a Mennonite shed builder this week, I was taken by a very large sign asking people to “like” them on Facebook.

The world has become a popularity contest, and everything now has a number.  This could be a remarkably efficient way to rank and rate pretty much everything – from diet soda brands to the Casey Anthony jury. Then again, popularity doesn’t isn’t necessarily the end goal.  Or shouldn’t be.

Case in point – according to Facebook, 22,980 people “like” Charles Manson, and 10,077 people like Sally Field.  Sorry Sally – maybe a “like” score wasn’t such a good idea after all.



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