Why I don’t like anything

Life is quiet around here lately. Almost too quiet. Usually I find comfort in quiet, but this isn’t the quiet of peace so much as the quiet of no one doing anything. My husband is trying to sleep (while Kyra, the only one not being quiet, goes around whining for attention or barking at who knows what outside). My younger son is sick with a sinus infection and spends his time resting.

And of course my older son is away at college. I encounter him sometimes at facebook, where I see that he likes reading and singing. Well, duh. Anyone who knows him knows that. I like reading and singing too, but I see no reason to press a Like button on facebook to say so.

I see a lot of posts inviting me to like something.

“If God has ever answered a prayer for you, press like!!!!!!!”

“Let’s join forces as Christians and start a Jesus Christ revival! Press like if Jesus is your Savior!!!”

They remind me of the emails I often receive (generally from the same people) that tell me I need to forward the email on. If I don’t, the email suggests (or says outright), it shows my lack of faith in God and my lack of love for Him. I delete the emails, and wonder what makes people want to write them to begin with. Do they actually strengthen other people’s faith? Do they ever bring people to faith?

This blog post touches on some other reasons for disliking liking things. The word like had more than enough meanings even before facebook. It’s like, how is someone trying to learn English supposed to know when, like, to use the word?

When I taught high school Spanish, my students complained about words that don’t translate to English the same way every time. For instance, hacer means both “to make” and “to do” in English, along with various idiomatic phrases such as “hace calor” (“it is hot”), “hacer una pregunta” (“to ask a question”), and “hacer caso a” (“to pay attention to”). In response, I wrote up a brief story imagining aliens landing on Earth and trying to learn English. They just don’t get all the ways that “get” is used in our language, and they finally give up and go home. Maybe if I taught the class today I would rewrite the story using the word like.

I see from looking at my own facebook profile that I do have a few likes. When I first joined, I tried to find a few things to indicate my interests, so I put that I was a fan of Stargate SG-1. Later I added the children’s section of our local library, and after a wonderful concert where I got to sing with Monroe Crossing, I added them also. I didn’t notice when I went from “being a fan” to “liking” them. I’m not about to “unlike” (i.e. remove) them just because I would rather be a fan than “like” them.

I also have dislikes, but facebook isn’t going to give me a place to list them. Apparently lots of people would like a Dislike button (millions of people “like” that idea), but this article explains why it’s not going to happen. Shared likes bring people together, and facebook is about bringing people together. Of course, shared dislikes bring people together too (think of the Tea Party), but they make a different kind of connection. I can like something that my friends like, and not really care that they like something I am indifferent to. But if they like something I hate, our common interests may not seem so compelling anymore.

Another reason I refuse to “like” things is that it puts them all on the same level. I like ice cream, music by Bach, Dean Koontz novels, hiking in the woods, and learning foreign languages. I’m not willing to use the same word to express positive feelings about God. Or my family, for that matter. I’m not saying that people who click on “Like” to try to show how many people on facebook love God consider Him just another preference, like music or a favorite color. But to me it seems as if the Like button treats Him that way.

I like playing Scrabble with my friend Linda on facebook. But I refuse to click the Like button to say so. Maybe I’m being principled, or maybe I’m just being obstinate.

Or maybe I’m just out of sorts because I have a sick son and an absent son and no appetite for eating dinner by myself.

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