What does it mean to love something on the internet today?

I remember back in high school when you wanted to recommend a favorite book to a friend, you made a case for it. Laid out the selling points, fielded questions, maybe engaged in a bit of spirited back-and-forth.

The physical evidence of your love would have been obvious in the volume’s flattened spine, dog-eared corners, scribbling in the margin, highlighting that bled through multiple pages.

Now, endorsing something is as simple as clicking an ever-present “Share” button.

The resulting flood of likes, +1’s, retweets, pins, and upvotes is enough to make anyone want to snap their laptop lid shut for a breath of air.

What if every time you clicked a “like” button a prompt appeared asking for 1-2 sentences explaining what caught your attention? How would that change your behavior? How would the extra context help others prioritize where to spend their time?

A few weeks ago I tried a little experiment where I forced myself to be more discriminating with my Instagram likes; my index finger was struggling to keep up with the endless flow of beautiful pictures in my feed. I found myself substituting towards more substantive interactions like commenting to explain what caught my admiration or asking a question to learn more about the shot.

The same spirit inspired the creation of a Quora board called “Worth revisiting” as a home for content deserving of a long, happy shelf life and many rereadings.

I want my trail of digital bread crumbs to have weight, to signify, “If you only have time to read one thing, let this be it.”

The internet has accelerated the formation of and access to high-quality content like no other time before. And that’s awesome. What hasn’t changed is the amount of labor, care, and attention that goes into creating something truly great, something worthy of passing on. Let’s make sure that stuff, the stuff you truly love, is what makes it to the top.

Inspired by:

Robin Sloan’s Fish (source of the title of this post)

Dustin Senos’ Social Currency

Naz Hahmid’s Discernment

Tuhin Kumar’s Digital Scarcity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *