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Might As Well Face It...

Article Written By Rameet Chawla

It’s our generation’s crack cocaine. People are addicted. We experience withdrawals. We are so driven by this drug, getting just one hit elicits truly peculiar reactions.

I’m talking about Likes.

They’ve inconspicuously emerged as the first digital drug to dominate our culture.

What was your highest liked post on social media? I bet you know. We have that figure stored in our memory like we remember the time when we got the “highest.” Likes aren’t just trivial feedback points, they’re something we internalize.

And then something else happens. Our bodies and brains begin to build a tolerance. We want to get higher. We crave a bigger dose until we surpass our record high. Drugs or Likes, it’s the same story – once you hit a certain “number high,” you’ll undoubtedly experience withdrawals, which is why it’s become a social norm to openly discuss... “liketivity.”

Recently, someone asked me why I didn’t like their latest photo on Instagram. This got me thinking about how Instagram isn’t like Facebook or Twitter, in that the volume of content is not filtered through an algorithm. Instagram content consists of relatively small bites of content (no articles to read, no long YouTube videos to watch, nothing linked offsite). So if you don’t like someone’s post, it’s basically because you skipped past it and consciously chose to not like it. Which made me think, if all my Instagram friends are Like-starved, why not satiate them in an automated way that’s easier for me too?

So I built something that could do just that, Lovematically.

Lovematically is a platform that automatically likes every single post that passes your Instagram feed.

I built it 3 months ago, and since then, I’ve averaged more than 30 new followers per day, totaling to just over 2,700 followers since inception. Since then, I’ve also noticed the reciprocal love coming in. Pre-Lovematically, my posts would average 35 likes. Now, I routinely hit the triple-digits for Likes.

But what has floored me, were the real world reactions that resulted from Lovematically. Some of them silly, others, not so much.

Walking down Crosby Street last week, a guy I didn’t recognize hollered at me “Yo, you’re killing it on insta – keep it up!” That would have never happened before. After that, I got a text back from a friend who was a bit perturbed with me that said, “Ah, it’s fine, you’ve been giving my photos lots of love. I forgive you.” I was also invited to at least three different parties, including one that helped me make a particularly good impression on a date.

And then, I got a text from an ex while I was at home visiting family that said, “Hi! Would you do me a favor and unfollow me on Instagram or at least stop liking all my pictures? I don't especially want to have you in my universe. You can play that game with other girls but not me. Thanks!” For me, that really summarized the power of likes. It shocked me how a simple double tap could drive someone to send that message, risking sounding absolutely insane. Her mentioning how “it didn't work on her” was particularly interesting. What she didn’t realize is that it did work, because I was on a mission to measure the emotion that a like could evoke, not trying to get on her good side.

Now, to revisit the drug analogy, every drug dealer makes his cut. As a result of all the people that I reinvigorated stale relationships with by simply liking their photos via Lovematically, my company received around half a million dollars worth of leads and RFPs.

So why is all of this happening? Likes are a lightweight engagement gesture that acknowledge “I saw this post,” and “I approve.” As James Altucher pointed out last week and Robert Cialdini covers in his book, Influence, if someone does something for you, the brain feels obligated to return the favor. This has been a useful, evolutionary way to weed out people who didn’t cooperate and consequently had a disadvantage surviving in the cruel, prehistoric world.

As an expert on virtual empathy Professor Larry Rosen has stated, “Mysteriously, that innocuous button labeled “Like” seems to carry with it a solid feeling of caring and kindness from friends, be they offline ones or solely people you know online.”

In conclusion, the primary caveat is the disappointment people feel when the automation is revealed. But, funnily enough, after a quick phase of disillusionment that their adulation was automated, people quickly demand access to this magical tool.

So, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re opening up the platform for the first 5,000 users so that they can go spread the love, and experience all the joys of Lovematically.