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The like button is destroying communication on the internet.

Gav McKenzie
Gav McKenzie
Nov 16, 2018
Opinion, Anyone

30,000 years ago, humans (Homo Sapiens) were sharing the planet with another similar species — Neanderthals. Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens co-existed for 20–40,000 years together, but eventually the Homo Sapiens won out.

One of the reasons we are still here? Communication.

Some scientists believe that Neanderthals were more intelligent than humans at a base level, but had less brain power devoted to social communication and less capable voice boxes. This meant that Homo Sapiens, whilst less capable individually, were able to transmit information between each other more successfully. This ability to share information made the Homo Sapiens able to advance more rapidly as a species, eventually outlasting the Neanderthals.

30,000 years later we’ve come a long way. We’ve got access to the majority of human knowledge in a tiny device that sits in our pocket.

The internet has brought forward a massive leap in human communication and knowledge sharing. No more digging through library books and enormous encyclopedia volumes, just ask your favourite search engine.

One of the greatest successes of the early internet was the fact that anyone could get involved in the discussion. Forums and blog post comment threads put users directly in touch with each other and fostered a culture of communication.

Recently, we have seen the rise of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. These networks live on advertising and rely on users coming back as often as possible to scroll through the posts.

The main thing that draws them back? Notifications.

In order to create the most notifications (and the most advertising revenue), these networks needed to create a feedback mechanism that took virtually no effort, but made people interested in seeing it.

A ‘like’ makes a user feel good, someone was pleased with the content they have shared! This sets off a dopamine reaction in the brain, that has been shown to be incredibly addictive and will keep users coming back. It also makes the ‘liker’ feel good, they have sent a reaction to the person who created the content and voiced their opinion.

By creating this, addictive, false sense of communication, we’re destroying real knowledge transfer and discussion.

A comment takes a little more effort, a little more time to write, but it starts a conversation. What do you get from a ‘like’, apart from a tiny dopamine hit for your addicted brain?

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