Thanks Facebook, for bastardizing a fairly picayune but ever-handy word that formed the staple of quotidian vernacular and a handy favorite among commonly used words in my (and I suspect, your) vocabulary for years.
“Like”, I used to like you but now I’m not so sure.I still can’t help but fall back on you, in some ways you are like the toast and jam of breakfast – convenient, easy and universally available. But now I hesitate to use you, lest my sentiment be misconstrued or trivialized by the now increasingly omnipresent and ominously mushrooming weed of the Facebook Like button. After all, now when you say “I like it!” what does it really say about the intensity of your sentiment? Arguably nowhere nearly as weighty as the 3278 “likes” garnered by a random re-posting of a funny picture by your friends’ friend (perhaps twice removed). It seems that in our race to process and parse an ever increasing array of information hurtling our way through the ether and over the air, we have outsourced even the basic modalities of what made for considerate, thoughtful courtesies and adopted the mindless clicking of the thumbs-up motif to demonstrate a sentiment that has now become as blasé in its meaning as it has commonplace in occurrence.
Love. Now there is a powerful expression. But it has gravitas. To love connotes a commitment, and not for naught is the term used sparingly – and often hesitatingly. It’s often the turning point in the nature of relationships, a marker signifying you’ve crossed the chasm from casual to committed. If liking something is meh, loving it would be FTW. No wonder we reserve the term for limited, careful, and exclusive use: lest using it generously may cause depletion of the scare sentiment and trivialize the tenets it stands for.
So heretic as it may sound: how about we like less and love more ?
No, this is not some new-age hymn to channel your inner ambivalence into a mellifluous emotive state of love. Instead it is an invocation to a recurring undercurrent that readers of this blog will recognize. And that is, have strong feelings – for whatever you believe in. Love then represents a deep and personal caring for your belief system. It means taking the time and necessary introspection to know what is important to you, what you stand for, what brings meaning to your life, and then committing to it deeply and completely. This is especially true in our hyper-connected world with its attendant constant interruptions and distractions, where our electronic lures beckon their siren call with every beep, buzz or tweet. Focusing your energies on fewer, but truly meaningful goals is what will make a difference. There is a growing body of academic and anecdotal evidence that suggests that an always-on lifestyle means we are doing more but accomplishing less, feeling less content and more out of control. Unplugging may not be an option for most, but running faster on the Pavlovian treadmill will not help either. If something feels worth it, don’t go through the motions and like-click away – take the time, make the effort to love.