friendship

The 'Mercy Like' is ruining Facebook. Here's how.

I have a friend named Sarah.

Sarah enjoys: Messina gelato, avocado smash, f45 training, poached eggs out, poached eggs in, jogging, her dog – Diego, her boyfriend – Daniel, her workmates – Jack, Christie and Ramesh, face masks and raisin toast.

I know these things because I have been giving Sarah mercy likes on Facebook for years.

Mercy Like

/ˈməːsi/lʌɪk/

verb

  1. liking a person’s social media post not because of its content but because you like them as a person.

noun

  1. a show of friendship that will ultimately ruin you.
How many times can you like a photo of an egg on avocado before your brain fries?

Mercy likes are not necessarily a bad thing. It comes from a good place. The problem is how quickly one well-meaning like becomes a tidal wave of senseless support.

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If you can like Sarah at her graduation photo best, must you like her at her toilet selfie worst?

The habit has become so natural that not liking something feels brutal - even cruel.

Once I accidentally liked a death announcement of one of my friend's parents because I had already double-tapped the image before I read the caption.

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This could just be me overthinking it but the scatter-gun approach of social media interaction actually screws you over in the long-run.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook will show you more of the people and things you like based on your past 'likes'.

So if you're liking Sarah's hashtag blessed post-gym selfies then you're only going to see more of them.

The content you want to see - interesting news, challenging opinion - gets drowned out in a wave of avocado. And Facebook thinks it's doing you a favour.

Black Mirror gave life to our worst fears. (Source: Netflix.)

Mercy likes are not a new concept. Netflix's Black Mirror parodied the unease that exists around this kind of hollow gratification in the first episode of its third season.

The episode presented a world where individuals were forced to rank one another, like we do Uber drivers, based on a five-star system. The benefits of a high star rating were endless while the consequences of a poor system were ruthless at best.

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Black Mirror showed how people could be reduced to profiles, one like at a time. It might be a huge comparative leap but the basic idea is the same.

Unless you're reaching for a tree-trapped kitten, I'm just not sure I care. (Source: iStock.)

The fix for all this is to simply like things less. Be more hashtag mindful.

Double-tap the engagement posts, the job announcements and the puppies. Comment on the opinion statuses with your own. Even snap back at trolls (if you must).

But don't like the nonsense or you'll find yourself like me, having to scroll past forty albums of a 2014 Mykynos trip because Facebook thinks I love travel photos.

Sarah won't even notice.

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