Like This If 7


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Insert cute/funny/controversial photo here

Like this if:

if you want to end childhood cancer
if you love your dad
If you think Jesus is just alright
If you like babies
If you think sunshine is pretty
If you put milk in your cereal
If you disapprove of Hurricane Sandy
If you wear pants, on your legs, with the zipper in the front

Today, I was asked by my social media friends if approved of a new car design, how I feel about women in their forties having babies and whether I like the new scent of some detergent. I was asked to weigh in on the exact level of annoyance I experience with election season. (It’s high, BTW.)

I think we can all pretty much agree that the hurricane was devastating and that kids with cancer is a kind of heartsick I don’t wish on anyone.

We live in a new world. One in which the homogenization of opinion is central. We must know where others stand on these vital issues so that we can assimilate, separate and properly order ourselves into the right communities.

Clicking the like button or RTing a tweet is the new shorthand. It means “I approved this message.” Cats are good, babies in flower pots make me squee and I love New York. Awesome. Is anyone talking anymore?

I don’t like the driveby “like,” especially If it’s important enough for me to “like” in the first place. I want to back up my amiability with reasons and qualifications if necessary. I don’t love everything about any single issue or idea, and I think some of these ideas are worth exploring. I can’t just approve or disapprove a candidate or a program without some thought.

I’m concerned that our new shorthand shortchanges us. It can rob us of a chance at a conversation, an opportunity to experience a change of mind, or at least a way to be exposed to another perspective. I worry that the “driveby like” sorts us into categories that line up in a pointless opinion war. That while we are busy circling the like wagons, we have forgotten how to listen, how to engage with respect and thought.

I’ll like your cute babies and your pithy sarcasm, but I’d also like to listen and to learn.

Think I’m overstating the case? Think there’s an easy solution? Think that unicorns are stupid and that gnomes are way better? Talk to me.