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Emma Orlow Headshot

If You Didn't 'Like' It On Facebook, Did You Ever Like It At All?

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One of the worst days of my life was when Facebook instituted "liking" on profiles. Hyperbolic? Perhaps. But if you were to just look at how much time we each spend updating our social media outlets, I don't think it's an extraordinary reach. I mean, I look at my own platforms that I am on: Be it Twitter, Blogspot, Tumblr, 8tracks, or yes, even Facebook, and I think how much time I spend trying to create cohesion with my expression of tastes. It's not like I cater my interests or writing to my audience (Far from it:My blog is called The Emma Edition, so I am as self-absorbed as it gets). However, there is a certain sense of digital narcissism that encourages me to feel as if I have to project a nuanced image of myself that equates to who I am in person. And I want people to understand both sides of my equation.

I know this is true because I, too, judge people based on their online persona. In the past I've even developed crushes on guys just from seeing that their Facebook indicates that they have great taste in 1960's rock bands or that they recently watched the new episode of "Portlandia." And for myself, I spent time liking things on my own profile, following people I like on Twitter, all to cultivate an online reputation that matches who I am IRL, hoping that someone is doing the same for me.

But there's something that really irks me about all this. There's an unnerving stigma in cyberspace that says if I don't express that I have a certain taste or interest, or wear a certain outfit, do I even like it at all? Why is it that the Internet is the end all, be all for validation?

I have followed 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, editor-in-chief of Rookie since her very first blog posts. I admire everything about her, especially her maturity and ability to manage everything she does with high school. I, myself, am 17, and also began working in fashion at a young age. And while I think that Tavi really is one of the greatest things to ever happen to teenagers, feminism, and the magazine industry, sometimes the media takes things out of proportion.

This is by no means at the fault of Tavi, because she is doing what many teenagers do on the Internet -- she cultivated an online persona for herself, and especially in her case, presenting her tastes in a really aesthetically-pleasing and an extremely unique way that sets the path for many others. Yet because of Tavi's rise to fame, the media suddenly decided that she was the first teenager of our generation to like many of the things she does. Maybe she really was. Yet I have a feeling it was in part because she was the only one being a champion of her tastes in such a powerful way online. Who really began the revival of "Freaks and Geeks" and "My So-Called Life?" Because I know that I watched these shows with my group of friends months before we saw it anywhere else. But where my friends got it from, I don't know. Maybe an older sister or someone who watched it when the aired the first time around. These are sillier examples.

It's more about the fact that since I've joined the Internet, I feel really protective over which tastes I share -- which is sad, because really, the Internet is supposed to be a place of democracy. And sure, it may sound shallow, but I am always secretly afraid that if I don't write online that I like a certain start-up company, or television show, or person, before anyone else, then I never really did. What do you guys think?