The surprisingly delightful musings of a humble Virginian whose satiric paeons to a plausible utopia implicitly shame the cynical zeitgeist of our times, causing it to cry, as 'twere, 'Damn, what was I thinking?' or words to that effect.

December 2017
In the calculus of admiration, 1 e-mail = 1,000 likes.

Why I Don't Like Likes

Why do I hate likes? Behold my four-count indictment against the faux currency of modern friendship:

1) Likes are often distributed on a quid pro quo basis reminiscent of the 1960's slogan for 7-UP: "You like it, it likes you," Thus, likes often don't reflect an actual like for posted content but are rather the predictable result of egocentrism via proxy. You big me up and I'll big you up.

2) Likes are cheap in every sense of the word. With a little talent and a relatively small advertising budget, anyone can garner several thousands likes. Take me, for instance. My music site garnered 3,500+ likes in that way last year alone, but did I ever receive one personal e-mail from this group of fans? Never. Not one. Which brings me to point three.

3) In the calculus of admiration, 1 e-mail = 1,000 likes. (And that's a conservative estimate, given my experience mentioned above) To receive a like, one needs merely to inspire the momentary twitching of an index finger. To receive a personal e-mail, one has to inspire a body to drop what they're doing and formulate (ideally) at least one cogent sentence expressive of admiration. (Oh! I get tired just THINKING about all of the effort involved!)

4) The all-important "total likes" figure means nothing since the folks doing the liking could be anybody (from Neo Nazis to residents of a "like-generating" farm in Mongolia). In some cases, the supposed "likers" may not even exist, but rather can be tracked to long-since dormant e-mail accounts.

In practice, everybody acknowledges these facts, which is why like-generating scams can get away with generating "likers" using dormant e-mail accounts. Even the folks who pay for these likes don't get too curious or angry about such doings, since they're getting "likes" and that's all that matters to them (or anyone else) in the virtual world.

I learned this truth the hard way last year, at the price of $700 to be exact. I found some company advertised on CD Baby that purported to find fans for struggling musicians like myself for what seemed to be a reasonable price. (Oh, yes, I tickle the odd ivory in my spare time. What can one say?)

Sounds good, eh? I'll let the professionals find my fans and meanwhile I'll focus on my music. (Here, take my money, guys! Please, take it!)

And I was thrilled by the initial results. I was soon racking up a dozen likes every day of the week from real-live fans! (They liked me, they actually liked me!) I started to think of myself as an actual board-certified musician. Finally, I had a purpose in life. I had a public to satisfy after all. I was on the road to stardom! (Say, maybe I should look into buying a new car. Imagine me, an up-and-coming rock star, tooling around town in a 1999 Toyota Corolla. For shame!)

But then, a few months later, when my brand-new fan total had topped 500, the devil landed on my shoulder and said: "Psst, hey, Bri-boy, don't you think it's just a trifle odd that all of these ardent fans of yours have never once bothered to send you an e-mail, neither to your personal e-mail address nor to the fan e-mail address that was created for you by this fan-finding service?"

An actual chill descended my spine. (Corny writers are correct, by the way, this phenomenon actually does transpire in a body that is stricken with sudden horror! Anatomists, take note!) Could my dreams of stardom have been based on an illusion?

Shocked into action, I finally began my due diligence viz the company that was purporting to find me all these "fans." I began attempting to contact my alleged admirers via the e-mail addresses that they had supposedly provided and to ask them if they, indeed, had ever heard of me, let alone liked me enough to consider themselves a fan.

Well, what do you suppose? I never received one single solitary reply from the 50 or so requests for confirmations that I sent out. Moreover, a subsequent investigation of these e-mail addresses proved them to be linked to parties who had long since either died or had given up on the Internet altogether (which amounts to the same thing, really, in this virtual world of ours).

Yes, I had been duped.

What's more, when I complained to the company in question, they seemed a little miffed. After all, they had provided me with "likes." Why don't I just shut up and boast about my new popularity? Who's to benefit from me spouting off about the alleged immateriality of the fans doing the liking? I got my "likes" and the company got their money. Where's the problem here? Or should they say, what's not to "like"?

Well, I'll tell you what's not to like, folks: Likes themselves! Humph.

QED, baby, with sugar on top!

Don't bother liking this article, by the way, but feel free to send me a grateful e-mail in response to it. I promise not to sue you for any arrhythmia that might be occasioned by the sheer novelty of the response! But whatever you do, don't send me any congratulatory snail mail. I don't think my heart would survive the shock!

People who enjoyed this article purchased the German shepherd novelty card in such numbers that a government commission was proposed to investigate the phenomenon, the logic being that a hidden sales tactic was at work here, the systematization of which could result in the revivification of sluggish economies across the globe.

Copyright 2017, Brian Quass (follow on Twitter)