Lately, I've noticed that, when I click on a friend's status on Facebook, I'm encouraged to "Be the first to like this." That is, of course, "liking" in the Facebook sense of the word: Clicking on the little "Like" that appears at the bottom of the posting, to the left of "Comment" and "Share." I guess those are in a sort of order, "like, comment, and share" being a digital-age equivalent of "fold, spindle, and mutilate" or "judge, jury, and executioner" or something. Anyway, I now find myself obsessed not just with liking things, but with being the first to like something. Because if I'm not the first, what's the point? I'm just a lemming-like, bandwagon-jumper, liking the fact that so-and-so is at Chuck E. Cheese or was tagged in such-and-such's photo merely because everybody else is doing it.
Thanks a lot, Zuckerberg! You took something beautiful and pure--the meaningless indication of one's semi-conscious approval of a friend's activity--and turned it into a base competition! What's next? The placement of paid advertising on one's Facebook page? I shudder to think.