I recently started a Facebook page for my business, Negotiate With Confidence. I invited all my friends to like the page and literally sat at my computer and watched as the page likes went up. I wondered why some people didn’t like the page. I wondered if my message was clear. I worried that I had offended someone. I worried that I had chosen the wrong color for the header.
After a while, I realized that I’d wasted an hour sitting there, pondering useless questions and was now one hour closer to death. I’d never get that hour back, that hour when I could have been doing something positive and amazing to change the world with the women I work with.
So when I read Tim Cook's message to Massachusetts Institute of Technology's class of 2017, I could relate to the Apple CEO’s message to "use their minds, hands, and heart to build something bigger than themselves, and to never lose sight of their humanity.” He told the graduates that they "must keep their morals at the center of what they do."
This advice from Tim Cook is wise, and he’s not alone in thinking this way about technology and in particular, social media. You should not measure your worth in 'likes.'
Social media can bring us together. I get messages from women after they watch a video on my Facebook page asking for help with a difficult situation at work. To me, this is the best of social media: when it brings us closer together. I also notice that many of these women don’t like my posts. What does that mean? Nothing. It means nothing. It just means that they didn’t hit 'like.' Not that they don’t like my post or me, but that they just didn’t hit the like button. And that’s okay, because the truth is in our connection and not the 'like.'
What good does it do to spend so much energy on the likes versus the other parts of social media that bring us together? Things like communities and groups where people share stories and advice; photos and videos that make us laugh; real news that keeps us informed.
In the same way that we share and connect, social media can drive a wedge between us.
I’ve had friends ask me, “why didn’t you like my post about (fill in the blank)?” I don’t go on Facebook every day, so I often miss things that my connections post. Plus, no social media platform shows you every single post, so even if you spent all of your time online you still wouldn’t see everything your friends share. And that’s the point, really, that the number of 'likes' does not in any way connect to the value of what you post, what you say or who you are.
The bottom line: be empathetic.
"If you choose to live your life at the intersection of technology and the people it serves, if you strive to create the best and do the best, not just for some, then today, all of humanity has good cause for hope,” Cook says.
I looked at my own Facebook page and decided to focus on the good I can do through that page, through the work we’re doing to change the world, one negotiation at a time. If you put your own use of social media through that filter, would you be more likely to comment, to encourage and to compliment the people you are connected to?
I challenge you to find out!