Loving And Liking

An astonishingly lucid essay by Jonathan Franzen on how constantly ‘liking’ odd bits on social networks can never amount to — and is probably even incompatible with — loving someone. Worth reading while  waiting for his new book.

We star in our own movies, we photograph ourselves incessantly, we click the mouse and a machine confirms our sense of mastery. And, since our technology is really just an extension of ourselves, we don’t have to have contempt for its manipulability in the way we might with actual people. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.


We can all handle being disliked now and then, because there’s such an infinitely big pool of potential likers. But to expose your whole self, not just the likable surface, and to have it rejected, can be catastrophically painful. The prospect of pain generally, the pain of loss, of breakup, of death, is what makes it so tempting to avoid love and stay safely in the world of liking.

(And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of publishing this very post all over the internet; I hope that, should you click that ‘Like’ button, you too will be aware of it.)

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“Yes, the constant arrival of informati…

“Yes, the constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder. But distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life. Turn off e-mail or Twitter when you work, put away your Blackberry at dinner time, ask your spouse to call you to bed at a designated hour.”

Steven Pinker – “Mind Over Mass Media

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