It happens fairly often: someone in the family buys a 'cool new thing', and posts pictures of it on social media like Whatsapp. Sometimes something interesting pops up that deserves a comment from me, but usually it is something I do not really care about.

Now I'm being asked by family to 'like' stuff more, since I'm normally more of a quiet person. Personally I don't see the purpose of being another +1 in a social circle for stuff I don't really care about. However, I don't want to break off communication with these people.

Now someone in my family is trying to get me to 'like' things more by saying it's "good for my social development". However, I don't see how 'liking' things helps me get actual social skills. I also feel like it's actually a detriment by liking stuff I don't actually like, as it makes me more irritated about the stuff that gets posted (since I actually have to respond to it), while simultaneously encouraging other people to post more of the stuff I don't care about (because they may think I actually like it due to my comments while in reality I don't).

I personally feel like there is no benefit to be gained from 'liking' stuff. In that case, what is the best way to get people asking me to 'like' more off my back and tell them politely that I'm not a kind of person that likes to 'like' a lot.

So far I have said that I am simply am just more of a quiet type, but that doesn't quite cut it. I kind of want to tell them that I simply don't like having to dedicate my attention to monitoring feeds that are unlikely to contain stuff that's really interesting to me. By the time I do take some time to catch up, 3 people have already responded. However, I can't think of a way of saying that without it offending people.


3 Answers 3


You are doing it right. Also, never be afraid of being yourself.

Someone in your family is trying to apply some form of peer pressure. You are correctly having second thoughts about it. Stand your ground, do not let their flawed arguments cloud your judgement.

Remind them that your social profile, and your social activities are, and should be, the outcome of your own free will. Kindly invite them not to pressure you into activities that are not necessary and that you may find uninteresting, if not outright degrading.

If they need to have more likes for whatever purpose, then they should be more explicit about their needs and their reasons, without trying to force you with the use of generic arguments. It is your right to ask them why they need more likes on topics and items that you are obviously not interested in, and have no need and no obligation to like. In this case, answers that focus on why you would need to like something are clearly not on topic with your question.

Finally, social skills are gained through interaction with others. Interacting with a machine, a webpage, and automated system of buttons and clicks is not really going to improve anything social.

This advice comes mostly from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

The answer is above. The following is marginally related literature, but good reads on the subject nonetheless.

The results showed that shame is the strongest predictor of susceptibility to peer pressure, and shame provided a pathway by which interpersonal rejection was related to susceptibility to peer pressure.

These results suggest that the social use of media is limited to seeking connectedness to others, whereas face-to-face communication can facilitate avoiding social isolation as well as seeking connectedness

Girls were also expected to focus on friendship as a rationale for agreeing with the request more than would boys, and to view friendship to be at greater risk if the request were refused. Boys, with social disapproval a less salient concern, were expected to focus more on pragmatic reasons for agreeing to or refusing the request than would girls.

The authors describe the power relationships in social media logic.

Extending previous research, we show that general self‐efficacy functionally connects personality factors and two components of Subjective well-being (life satisfaction and subjective happiness). Our results demonstrate the mediating role of self‐efficacy in linking personality factors and subjective well-being.

only a tiny proportion of these sharing units trigger any type of knowledge exchange that is ultimately beneficial to the users.

The authors then continue to analyze factors that influence this knowledge sharing.

Parents were asked to influence the child's behaviour. The effect was stronger when the child was directed to misbehave. Negative behaviour (i.e. a refusal) is perhaps a much easier path compared to the positive reinforcement of the established norm (i.e. conforming).


When you "like" something on social media, it doesn't mean

I really like that item / place / activity. I wish I had that / went there / did that. You have marvelous taste. Seeing that picture or reading those words has filled me with delight and joy.

It actually means something more like

I can see this is something you're excited about or proud of. I like you, so I am going to like your post.

I mean I literally have this thought process when people post pictures of their children's accomplishments or the thing they sewed / knitted / wove / grew / baked. And it's what I expect they also think when they like my versions of those posts.

What your family members are telling you is that learning to compliment people will take you a long way in this world. Not lying. Finding something nice to say when someone is happy and proud about something. In person that might be "oh, you all look so happy in this picture" or "what nice weather you had for it" or other positive comment that doesn't actually say anything you don't mean. On social media that means hitting Like, which nobody thinks means you actually like horror movies or rare roast beef or marathons or crossfit or high school plays or the other things people share on social media.

If you are concerned that "the algorithms" will show you more because you liked things, well perhaps they will. (Twitter doesn't; Facebook might if you use the Top Stories feed, etc.) But not in the sense of "oh, you liked Joe's picture of a sunset, here is another picture of a sunset from Steve". It's more like "you seem to like and comment on Joe's stuff a lot, here is more stuff from Joe. You ignore Steve so you won't see as much of Steve's stuff." And that's why interacting with family's posts can keep you connected more.

I have one friend who does not want to be tagged and who never likes anything. He is concerned about privacy, data mining, etc. He has told us all of this in person and he expresses his likes differently. So if I post something on FB he might email me and say congratulations, or I bet you're proud of your kid, or it looks like you really enjoyed that trip. If you're willing to do that, your family might stop bugging you to like their posts. I have other friends who left various social media sites because they didn't enjoy the pressure to acknowledge small things in other people's lives, and the feeling of competition. That is also an option for you. If you don't enjoy what social media is offering, you don't need to be part of it.

  • 2
    I'm not sure how this answer the question: "What is the best way to get people asking me to 'like' more off my back?". If this is a frame challenge, you might want to re-read our faq about frame-challenge and edit your answer to make it a valid frame-challenge.
    – Ael
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 9:11
  • It was written when the question still said "I wonder what is the benefit" instead of "I feel there is no benefit" - but apparently the rule not to make edits that invalidate answers doesn't apply in this case Commented May 14, 2019 at 16:11
  • 1
    People "like" things for all sorts of reasons, sometimes for the reasons in the first yellow box and not the second yellow box. Commented May 19, 2019 at 7:05

So I wonder if there is some benefit to be gained from 'liking' stuff, and I am just looking at it wrong.

People are different, so is their thinking about likes. You think it's unimportant, they think it is important. You are not wrong by definition, you are different. This is to be made clear to your family. Find out why they think they are right.

This answer focuses on

tell them politely that I'm not a kind of person that likes to 'like' a lot.

I am a not-liker because for me it's just stupid as hell and I know the pleas to like stuff or post more about me online. A good reaction is to not explain things yourself but let others explain. The key to argue is to not only answer "I don't think so" to an argument but ask for more details.

A good start to ask about their backgrounds is this...

Now someone in my family is trying to get me to 'like' things more by saying it's "good for my social development".

This is a great entry for you to ask:

  • What do you think would help me build my social development if I click a like button?

  • What positive feelings does it give to you to see many likes? - To me it doesn't give anything.

  • Do you think others know what they like at all or just do it out of habit? - I would do it only to have my peace, this won't help you.

  • What do you interprete in likes they give you and likes you give? Isn't that just an overestimated game?

or to say:

I am not a virtual person only, I neither have time nor do I want to see everything that happens online and to like everything that is around.

No matter what happens, it gives you opportunities to interact on their thoughts and explain you have a different view. This should give a chance they stop bothering you, either because they understand you or only because they see there is nothing to convince you.
Generally it's not about convincing. It is about giving a statement that makes clear you don't want that and there is no sense in bugging you again and again.

  • 2
    Hi puck! I see this answer has a couple delete votes unfortunately.. Although it does seem reasonable advice to me overall, it doesn't include much info about how your personal experience informs this advice, as per our citation expectations, which I'm guessing is the reason for those votes. Could you edit to add a little more info about your experience, like how did your family respond when you said things like this, were there things that did not work? or when do you recommend asking questions vs. stating you aren't interested?
    – Em C
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 18:42

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