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The Danger of Likes

Can the number of “likes” actually be harmful?

Discover the dangers that lie within our “likes”.

The internet has drastically changed the meaning of some words. Take the word “like” for instance. It’s defined by Webster Dictionary as “to feel attraction toward”, as in I like you, and “to wish to have”, as in I like that.

These two definitions convey the emotion of an attraction to someone that you’re starting to like, or to an item that you want to have. Both of these definitions require enough knowledge of either the person or the thing for you to figure out that you “like them” or that you “want it”.

In order to “’get with the times”, Webster’s Dictionary has had to add a more current definition: “to electronically register one’s approval for others to see”, and it’s this definition that I feel holds so much danger for our players.

Instead of requiring a knowledge of someone or something, this current use of the word “likes” is ALL about those last four words “… for others to see”. Likes are today’s popularity contest. Not only are they almost badges-of-honor for the account-holder to covet, but they don’t require any real effort, knowledge or commitment on the likers part. If I’m going to “like” something on social media, I simply click a button.

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That click doesn’t mean I’m committed to the idea, that I “like” the person whose post it is, or that I’m attached to the concept in any way. It simply means for that second, I thought it was cool, so I clicked a button.

The reason I’m even writing about this, because to me this seems very obviously superficial, is because today’s player views “likes” as a measure of success. They feel their own value is based on the number of “likes” they have to any given post.

Likes are a dangers popularity contest. Instagram has recognized that “likes” aren’t all that healthy so they’ve decided not to make “likes” public, at least in a test-run in Canada, They’re hiding likes. Instagram says it’s because they want followers to focus on the photos and videos. They feel that when likes are public that people care too much about them and that people view them as a metric of success.

I gotta say – I totally agree with them. Our players desperately want to fit in and to matter. They live in the false world of social media, which makes things look real, but has no doubt been Photoshopped, been left out (like their ugly days, bad luck and general misfortune), or otherwise been made to look falsely fantastic.

It’s very normal for kids to want to fit in, and be popular. What isn’t normal, or healthy, is when that desire is the end-game. If players so desperately want others to approve of them they’ll do or say almost anything to get that approval, or that “like”. What they’re really saying is that the opinion of others matters more to them than their opinion of themselves. And that is where the danger lies!

We can’t change the fact that our players like “likes”, but we can help reframe this concept by simply challenging them to think about “likes” as it applies to them. Would they have given a “like” to their effort at practice today, or how they were as a teammate, or their intensity, their sleep, their study habits? You name it. Have your players come up with a ton of things they do throughout the day, that are really important to them, for example, softball, their family, their friends – and then have them decide if they would actually hit the “like” button.

It’s a great way to relate to your players, and to help them view themselves in a better light.

For help with creating a positive, healthy environment for your team and players, check out our eClinic on team culture – eClinic 021: Team Culture – The Key to Your Team’s Success.

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