There are many things I like, I like cider, I like the view across the moors on my walk to work, I like listening to records, and I like lasagnwiches. I like things that I have seen, heard, tasted and so on and so on. This is pretty normal stuff, and we all like things. When Facebook first reared its ugly head and the like button began to appear everywhere, I liked indiscriminately, every tiny thing I saw online that I enjoyed, I liked it, and that’s “liked” with the click of a mouse, as it made sense. If you like it, then “like” it. However, it soon became fairly apparent that it would drive anybody unfortunate enough to be one of my “friends” utterly nuts, if their feed was clogged with all my “likes”. I clearly like too many things, which is no bad thing. I have cut down, and limit myself to one daily mash article a day now, though it should be all of them really.
As soon as it dawned on me that all the liking was essentially market research for big business, it took a bit of the shine off it for me. Luckily, I’m not sure my immense liking of Smokey and the Bandit, Discworld books, and reams of faintly amusing fake news articles helped them target the adverts any better at me. Particularly as I am tin-foil hatted enough to use Iron with ad-blocker installed (non-geeks, check with your IT support, they’ll get this). And then it got worse.
The sudden currency of “likes” is not so brilliant, particularly for those of us stupid enough to put ourselves out there as musicians in the public eye (or ear, or whatever you like). Plenty of festivals and promoter types out there now won’t put you on if you don’t have a certain amount of “likes” which lends itself to a fairly shitty deal for all. Basically, if you are young types, who do mass social media on a huge scale, you can call in all your mates to “like” the page, without them ever having heard a note you’ve played. So there is now a clear advantage, akin to the old style battle of the bands where the audience voted, and it became a “whoever has the most mates wins” type affair,
This has led to a nasty phenomenon, by which people I had previously considered perfectly reputable and normal, are now sending begging messages every other day pleading with me to “like” their pages. I shall be frank with you now, if I have been to see your band, and enjoyed it, I will “like” your facebook page. If you have some music and videos on there for me to listen to, and I have time to get round to listening to it, I will “like” your facebook page. If it is just a page, with a few photos on it and a list of gigs, and I haven’t been to see your band. I am not going to “like” it anymore. Time for the “like” to mean something rather than a stream of mates giving you a pity click.
Also, if you are running a business, and need likes, if it is something I am not in the least interested in, and you are going to fill my newsfeed up with pictures of cakes you are trying to sell, I will not “like” that either. Plenty of people will, and I will probably share the link with people who I think might, that’s what social media is for after all. If you “add” me to a group you have set up for your business/crochet group/dog-bothering club without even mentioning it to me beforehand, then I will probably leave on principle. Unless it’s really interesting dog-bothering.
By the way, if you have seen me at one of your gigs, or know for a fact that I have listened to some of your work, and I still haven’t “liked” your page, then I probably don’t actually like your music. Sorry, I am sure somebody out there does though. Or I may have forgotten all about it, either way is good.
If this sounds like the bitter ramblings of an ageing muso, then I am afraid it is not so, the phenomenon of the “like” has been excellent business for Carnivala! As we have a couple of teenagers in the band who can call up more likes than you can shake a shitty stick at. And I never really liked trying to gig Plastic Squirrel stuff, as it is mostly just for my own enjoyment because nobody else writes music I really like. I’d just like to level it all out, so that when somebody “likes” my page, I know they actually liked it, and aren’t just trying not to offend me. Can we reclaim the “like” for things we actually like, not just things people we like are doing, that we now have to “like” as some kind of social nicety. I know many of you are already doing this, as I have (for some insane reason, as I don’t think I know this many people) 288 facebook “friends” and a mere 73 “likes” for my Plastic Squirrel page. It’s ok, I don’t expect you to like it, even I don’t most of the time.
By the way, those of you following the ongoing battle against procrastination, no, I have not written a word in the last week, I’ve been rebuilding basses, my studio, and rehearsing and gigging with bands, also writing songs for a future Plastic Squirrel release. There has been a certain amount of lying in front of the sofa, and sitting in the sun as well. This week may see more productivity though as I finally finished the online coding course last week. I learned that I don’t like coding, and I am not especially good at it either. Which was a thing worth learning in my opinion.