The number of Likes on a post will always have ‘something to do with’ its Content. ‘Something to do with’: an expression used when you are not able to clearly define this relationship.
However, when the expected number of Likes decides about the Content, this can be a problem.
A simple example: I am posting this article because I have noticed something, something that I find interesting first, something that may be interesting for others. Because utility always matters, what am I gaining from this activity?
Now if I decide not to publish this post because I think people would not press the button ‘Like’, this would be the sad result of the New Social Media World all platforms included.
Let’s go back to the origin of Facebook. It was created to help people communicate, share and stay connected from the four corners of the world. This first definition is supposed to lead to a connected community and by connection we think linked, relationship.
These characteristics do exist in reality but other less cheerful – more vicious behaviors quickly appeared in the meantime.
Published Content should aim a certain category of people with an informative purpose. The motives behind this information have unfortunately changed within the use of Social Media.
Today, Likes have power of changing the viewers’ decisions of reading or not the Content of the Post. Likes make them rate the value of any kind of publication. Likes have started making it stressful for publishers – with hopefully some exceptions – to make that step because Likes are difficult to forecast but they are strongly noticeable afterwards. That is why Likes or any other kind of following system is the new variable in the equation.
Our New Social Media Resources//Revenues system is as follows: Posts (Content)//Likes (Followers). Utility from our activity in the platform (synonymous with Time, energy, money) is not measurable but can get identified through Likes. Individuals’ Rationality is altered because they lack information about the Likes they could get. They are influenced by externalities, a notion that was introduced by Pigou in 1920, “the Economics of Welfare” to extend Alfred Marshall’s view and further the traditional utilitarian heritage.
Our new system is closely related to the individualistic social welfare function that was predicted in a 1938 paper by the American Economist, Abram Bergson, emphasized 9 years later by Samuelson. Its individualistic form is sharpened by a judgment through a ranking system composed of “better”, “worse” and “indifferent” statements under indices and cardinal indicators embracing at the same time Pareto efficiency. This ranking system even exists in Events’ Posts, when ‘maybe’ can be another way to say ‘it depends on’ several private (interest, availability, money, …) but also public variables (how many people and who exactly is attending): An interaction that goes both ways a couple of times before making our decision. This “indifferent” statement sometimes stays still until the very last moment and changes to one of the two left options.
Similarly, the decision made from the interaction between our personal point of view concerning our post and the reaction in the outside, altering the whole Social Media world in its first purpose that is simple connection, is what Arrow tried to prove in his General Possibility Theorem: as a Social Welfare function cannot satisfy all conditions that first appear to be reasonable.
Many Likes on a post appear to be justified by the content’s quality. However, if you do not decide to open and read it, you cannot ‘Like’ the post. Similarly, if you like it, it does not mean you have read it. Also, this is supposed to be based on your personal statement only, without any interaction with the other viewers’ judgments.
The function is getting more and more complicated and we have just tried to identify the new face of the same traditional system. The market is getting more difficult to influence because our utility, resources and revenues are hard to measure.
But let’s not forget that Social Media is here to connect people. This connection is just losing its consistency on the way!