When Facebook first got started, 'liking' meant something. You didn't just hand out a thumbs up as if it was charity -- people had to earn it. A post needed to be endearing, clever or unique, or you had to have a crush on the person.
It's different now. If you're part of the crowd aged 25 and under, or 45 and over -- the "next generation" of social media -- you're liking way too many posts. Everyone's whoring out hearts, literally, just giving them away, and forgetting that people need to be teased in this life.
Who and what you like says a lot about you. It's a business, it's how advertisers target banners to your Feed and also why people stalking you know where you went or what your best friend ate for dinner (I may or may not speak from experience).
As an OG of Facebook, I feel inclined to offer advice. There are rules to this shit, as Biggie once said. Thus, I've written a 'Liking Manual,' a step-by-step booklet to clean up the Feeds, and help tweetsters get their digital game on track.
Part I: Things That Are Okay To Like, But Only With Discretion
1. Select baby photos: First of all, a picture of a baby sitting there being a baby is not good enough for a like. Every parent gets one freebie, but after that, only original set-ups deserve favorites. If you heart all your friends' baby photos, your Feed will look like mine, which currently resembles a nursery school. It's too late for me, but save yourselves.
e.g. This is okay to like due to the balloons.
2. Family posts: Social media and blood do mix, as long as there's an understanding. If you're a parent, your main purpose on social media is to get your kids' like count up. Remember: Liking > Commenting.
If your parent is on social media, you should favorite their posts periodically, but don't get out of hand or they will.
Siblings and cousins, you're on the same team so heart the shit out of each other.
3. Pet photos: Pet photos are the second most saturated market after baby photos. Not all pets are liked equally so I've divided this into three categories: dogs, cats, and bugs found in the house.
Dogs - Dog people tend to be less aggressive posters. Feel free to like as many of their photos as you wish unless the dog is wearing clothing or hats, or eating food that looks like your dessert.
Cats - Cat owners are the paparazzi of pets. Only like their photos if they are especially cute, involve kittens, or have great captions like my friend Kirby's:
Bugs found in the house - The only way to stop this from happening is to stop encouraging it.
4. Posts by your best friend: Best friends should help each other out with likes, so heart whatever your pal posts unless it falls into the aforementioned categories. Other exceptions: a) a photo from a party you didn't get invited to that you should have been invited to; b) an unflattering, unapproved, probably drunk photo of yourself. They should know better.
5. Posts by your crush: The most controversial of likes. Hearting is flirting in digital society, so don't be a tramp. You have two options: a) Only like their post if it's a hot picture or involves something exciting that happened to them -- like 'Hey, remember me?'; b) just heart at random so you're super mysterious.
6. Posts by your ex: Avoid liking their posts unless it's about Game of Thrones. Any post by any person about "Game of Thrones" is pre-approved.
7. Posts by people you've hooked up with but are not interested in dating: Game of Thrones only.
8. Posts by co-workers: Like away. You need them!
9. Posts by your boss: Same. You really need them.
10. Posts by your significant other: Since half the time you're sitting next to them on the couch and everybody knows it, you should only favorite their post if they've accomplished something particularly huge, like they got a promotion or cooked lasagna.
Part II. Things You Should Never Like Under Any Circumstances
1. Long paragraph posts about life.
2. People who brag by noting that they are "humbled" by it all.
3. Anything having to do with reality television.
4. Your own posts... NEVER DO THIS.
5. Celebrity posts. Yeah right.
6. Overdramatic selfies or photos where people are intentionally fishing for compliments. We all know how to use filters.
7. Angry posts: Why they gotta bring bad energy to the Feed?
8. Posts with pictures of surgery or blood or anything medical because I didn't want to be a doctor for a reason.
9. Bathroom mirror photos: Unfollow them unless they do it like this girl, which they probably don't.
10. Elusive posts/People begging for you to ask them to explain what their completely vague, stupid statement means. And whatever you do, don't comment.
Part III. Reciprocation
I try to give back to people who've been generous to me. You like my posts, I like your posts. Similarly, if you've never given me a heart, don't expect an invite to my birthday party.
That's it. Hopefully, by following these rules, we'll make the Feed a better place.
Stay away from the police too.
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter: www.twitter.com/courtgarcia