The Science of the Facebook Like

The facebook like is such a tiny little thing. But so are the cellular processes in our bodies. In fact, as a whole, they mean a lot. Unlike most humans, who strive to understand and achieve larger scale goals, I am more concerned about analysing the little things.

So I have been decoding the facebook like trends for years now and here are the categories I thought were appropriate to put facebook users in. Please do not read too much into it. It is meant to be funny, not critical, insulting nor passive aggressive.

1. The serial liker: serial likers like everything. Within this category you will find people who like their own posts, people who like every single thing you post and will keep liking things even when they don’t get the inside joke, language content or obvious negativity of what is being communicated. People in this category use the facebook like as a “seen”. However, this is a nice thing because it’s almost like getting unconditional facebook love.

2. The moderate loyal liker: my personal favourite. This type will like your stuff periodically, depending on the quality of the things you post. I like them because some things don’t really call for a like. Liking too much puts you in category number one. Also, this liker suggests that they are up to date, that you haven’t posted anything that has hurt their feelings and that they are happy that you are doing well or having fun.

3. The topic-dependent liker: this liker will only like things that you post that cover the topic that they are passionate or obsessed about. Even if they don’t like you, they will like what you posted because it touches their background. It’s like they have this switch that only goes on when you use the right code. This may be related to nationality, sexuality, music, hobbies, religion, politics, conspiracy, etc.

4. The person-dependent liker: you might share the exact same meme as five others on their facebook friends list. However, they will only like the ones posted by their favourite people because they have a loyalty to them. They fall into a cross-category at times, aka the person-dependant serial liker.

5. The tigers in the grass: the people who never like anything on facebook. Often, these people don’t post on facebook either. They might as well not be on it. Apparently you can deactivate and still keep messenger on – not being able to access messenger is often their lame excuse. These people make me skeptical. The tigers I don’t mind are those who occasionally send me a message to say they have been keeping up with my facebook life and they love all of it.

6. The active non-liker: this type of liker likes strategically. They like things that devalue you or discourage more show-off type posts, almost as if to say: “I like your disgrace, not your face”. Also, they actively refrain from liking things that are very obviously likeable and that only people who hate you would not like (Jeez, how long does hitting the like button take?). This is my second favourite, as they give me the most material to analyse. Often, these people ask you about things as if it weren’t all over facebook and then you have to have a basic conversation (yawn!).

7. The sympathy-buying liker: often, you’ll be faced with a sudden flood of likes from this person who you haven’t really spoken to for years. Usually this is someone who is about to ask you for a mega favour, for which they’re preparing the soil. You also get this type of like from someone who has a secret crush on you – there is really no other way to say it. Finally, this liker type also strikes when they have done something wrong but sorry seems to be the hardest word.

8. The realist liker: I would put myself into this category. When I like something it means I really like something. It may be posted by someone I am not so fond of, it may even make me envious for a brief moment, it may be dark or wrong, but if it’s good, it makes sense or is entertaining, I just have to like it. I never like things out of sympathy or compassion though. But also, depending on the type of liker you are, behaviour is bound to change for realist likers. Their reality becomes “you don’t deserve my like”.

9. Last but not least… The contradictive butt-kissing liker: this liker obviously has all the negative feelings towards the other person but likes everything anyway, because it’s an obligation within their social circle. Often, this involves people with status and/or money who have a rep to keep.

Although some think that I put way too much thought into this, I have spoken to people who feel affected by the exclusion they face based on facebook liking. Things like selective birthday wish liking are just not very nice. It feels as though you are differentiating between the people posting on your wall. Also it’s bad when you genuinely like someone’s posts, watch them like everything else but not what you post. I mean, if people have something to say it should just be said.

To be fair, I know that I can count my friends with a hand or two and that half my likers don’t have time to talk to me, but that’s better than no interaction, I suppose. It only really begins to be degrading when there is a lack of much needed communication. I guess some people are just a bit indifferent to you as well, but that is when I think de-friending is totally acceptable. I mean, who wants to be posting personal photos and thoughts wondering how many haters will hate? And who wants to hate some annoying person anyway?

Spread more love, please.

Put that cigarette out

We are all experts when it comes to giving our own opinions on a matter. This entry will be all about how I stopped smoking. I am an expert in the field of Barbara-quitting-smoking as are all of those others who have written books on the subject. Before you read on, I just wanted to say that most of it will probably not even make sense to you, but you should try whatever you think will work for you. I tried everything. And everything worked.

So it all started with fear. I saw my mum smoking every day of the first decade or so of my life. I don’t think I ever spent a day away from her and she smoked a lot. At first, I thought of cigarettes as the forbidden fruit. It seemed like a disgusting thing to do, but it had to be amazing because my amazing mum did it, so in my head I thought: “let me just grow a little older and then I’ll be able to do it in style, just like she does”.

Around about when I was twelve or thirteen I asked my mum to try it. She had always been quite liberal and allowed me to make my own choices. Thus, she let me try a little puff, so I could see how disgusting it was. I thought that much when I tried, but I had suddenly lost fear: the fear that I would try cigarettes behind my mum’s back and either be caught or feel guilty and end up telling her anyway, after which I’d get a big slap.

For most of my childhood, I also had this fear that smoke might kill my mum, but suddenly, I was not so afraid any more, I thought: “Hey, I smoked and I am OK. Maybe in the future I will do it a bit more”, but I also convinced myself that it would take a whole lot of cigarettes per day and a whole lot of bad luck for her to die from it. Besides, I was probably going to become a smoker, because that is what I saw my role model do, so we’d be in it toegther.

When I was fourteen, I moved away from my mum for the first time ever. I was living in Asia and she was living in Europe. Coincidentally or not, I started smoking. Of course she would hate to think she had an influence in this, but deep down, I believe I kind of missed the second hand smoke. And also my boyfriend and his buddies thought it was a cool thing to do. In fact, it was almost like I was addicted before I even started. That is why I say to all the people who ask me about it that I started trying to quit from the day I had my first cigarette.

I was never a heavy smoker, but I knew that one day, I would stop, just like I knew, as a child, that I would be a smoker one day. It’s just one of those things: you either like it or you don’t. But you also need a motivation to stop, if that is what you actually want. If you are reading this, you are probably interested in letting go of that terrible habit. I have had many motivations: the fact that it deeply disappoints my dad, the fact that I have been sick on a couple of occasions and felt how sensitive throats and lungs can be and the fact I live in England, where you almost have to sell your organs to be able to afford it and at this stage, I am not so sure you’d even be in good hands, if you were to be hospitalized with some smoke-related disease, with the cuts that are currently happening – so there you go, take this as motivation!

If you think about it, smoking drives a lot of business. What would be of the factory workers, the drivers, the distributors, the ashtray makers, the newsagents, the doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and radiologists, the dentists and hygienists, the funerary agencies, the researchers, the campaigners, the teachers, the salespeople, the bankers and so on. Smoking actually creates a lot of purpose for people, perhaps more than it leads to death, but is it a risk worth taking? Do you want to be part of that cycle? Aren’t there better cycles in life to be part of?

Smoking isn’t good for anything – please feel free to add comments below regarding the ways in which it is good, if you can think of any. Initially, you get over that fear barrier and it doesn’t attack your throat so badly, so you start building a little routine around it. You have it after breakfast, you have it after lunch, you have it when you drink and you have it whenever you feel like throwing a punch. Then you have it while you’re on the toilet or after having sex or whenever it suits you. You start associating it with basic needs and therefore you make it a basic need. Then you start smelling, your teeth start yellowing, you start coughing and you start becoming socially unpleasant, because you have a little routine, which others don’t follow, so you miss out on the flow of conversations. You start feeling sorry for yourself, so you have another useless cigarette.

I tried to go cold Turkey a million times. I once ran a tap and put the tobacco pouch I had on me under the water so that I would deliberately waste it and never feel inclined to buy it again, so as to not be inclined to ruin it again. My smoker friends told me off massively, as I could have given it to them instead, but I thought that idea was great because it bought me a few weeks off the cigarettes. Later on, I found myself on the verge of having a panic attack from not having tobacco on me, so I tried to have it all the time, but not smoke it, but again, it would only last a few days. Then I tried not having it on me, but that only annoyed the smokers around me, because I’d be asking them. Thank you if you were one of those people – you helped.

I tried to chew on nicotine gum, which I thought was disgusting, I tried nicotine patches, which work when your mind is cooperating, but then you just want a cigarette, because you enjoyed smoking in the first place; I tried vaping and I guess that was the most effective method. I stuck to vaping for several weeks and when I got a bit tired with the faffing, I realized that it had actually helped me break the habit of smoking for a few months. I thought to myself: “What the hell… Buying refills, charging this damn thing, producing bubble gum smelling vapour, I look pathetic! I have been off the cigarettes anyway so why even do any of this?”.

This was when I realized that smoking had actually been pretty irreplaceable up to that point. But this also made me realize that smoking is not a physical addiction, it is a mental one: you do it, because there is nothing else like it without the harmful effects. You get addicted to it, because not only you made it a basic need by incorporating it with other habits, but you have created a gap for it in your life. A gap that allows you to have a break from the job you hate, a gap that allows you to break that awkwardness with people you have no topic to talk to about, a gap that allows you to think that having that one cigarette is going to make everything better, until it starts making good things worse.

Everyone can quit smoking. They can quit for a day – that is the hardest one to do. It’s the same with facebook. Going a day without the urge to post something on facebook is the hardest thing. The easiest thing to do is to go a week without it. Then it gets a little bit hard, because you think: “Hey, one week, way to go, I can do this any time! Light me up, please?”. Doing it for a month or even three is super easy too, but the hardest one is to have that one cigarette without going right back to where you were, smoking three, five or ten a day. I can’t say I have experienced smoking that much at any point in my life, but I have had days when I smoked a lot.

One thing I found really useful was to run. After I started running half marathons, I found that smoking genuinely felt like I was stabbing myself “in the health”. There was just no way that I could feel good about smoking a cigarette while my body was trying to be clean and strong. But retrospectively, running was just another thing I tried within the ten year period. In fact, every single example I have given you in this post helped a little. Every little thing did its job at the time and is doing its job now. Once you look at your commitment to telling yourself daily how bad it is – for years – and once you look at what you’ve tried, not only you recognize a respectable practice, but you also start thinking: “It’s time I paid some respect to my body”.

I know that different people have different perspectives, but we have this silent fear of quitting smoking that replaces that fear we once had of taking it up. Humans live off fear. If you exercise losing your fear of everything, you will actually find strength to quit smoking as well as do a million other amazing things in life. Some people may fear the gain of weight, some people think that your body goes crazy when you take cigarettes away and that this is the stage in which you will develop cancer. If that is the case, just practice quitting every day of your life until you believe that you will be fine, the same way you thought: “I will be fine, I don’t smoke that much” or “I have smoked this much and I am fine” or “I am fine, why stop now?”. Nine cigarettes is better than ten. One healthy day is better than none. A million attempts will reverse the ratio of smoking days to non-smoking days. One day you will be having one cigarette per week and you’ll think “One cigarette, why do I even need it? I am fine without”. And like myself, one day you will glance at that person who has a cigarette, you will know that you can ask for one, but you will choose not to. And it will feel fucking great! Please never ever give up giving up.



That baby your biological clock needs

Ever wondered why all the perfect men and all the perfect women are taken?

It’s very simple. It is because we are constantly looking for another human being to complete us. If we are inadequate, nobody wants us and nobody questions why we are on our own. Moreover, because we are needy, it’s almost like we repel people of the opposite sex without even opening our mouths.

As soon as we become semi adequate, we soon begin to attract people again and then we start telling ourselves we need to let someone in, else we’ll end up in solitude, with not one bit of love, because we rejected someone who could have been OK. Thus, we begin to tell ourselves how everyone is flawed and how we’re sooner or later going to have to accept the fact that someone will have to do, before we become too wrinkled to be loved.

Now the most fascinating thing is that I have a bunch of friends in their late thirties, both men and women, who are starting to become a little bit concerned that divorced individuals with baggage – often legged baggage – is all they can find. I wish they would just get together. But no, the law of attraction says you want the least feasible option, though deep down you criticise it. Do my friends think that there should be someone else out there who has been saving themselves for the love of their lives for about twenty years of their existence? Do you think the same?

Let me be the bearer of bad news: they were as desperate as you. So they made a few editions of themselves and then realized there was more to life than sticking to one person you thought was adequate but did not quite love. Either forgive them and accept them, their history and their baggage or don’t. Either way, complaining is never good. Love is what you are aiming for. If you haven’t found it, regardless of luggage size, keep looking.

For the love of you, take a second to think about this: Is finding a sexual soulmate the sole purpose in one’s life? I hear you say “Hell no”, and I also still see you picturing little editions of you growing into the future. Forget about it. Love yourself. Because the sooner you do that, the sooner you will fix this problem of all the perfect men and women being taken and the sooner you will find your true soulmate – not necessarily someone who you would consider to have good genes, so your children can survive natural selection, which by the way means anything but survival of the fittest.

When I say perfect, I mean ready for a relationship. Just because you are ready for a relationship, it does not mean you should be in one. Have you never experienced that feeling of knowing that THAT one friend of yours would have been a perfect lover? But you were taken when you met… Or they were taken… Then you both broke up with the people you were with but you never wanted to make it official that you felt something for your friend… Or maybe the timing was bad because by the time you were both free, new people had appeared in the picture…

YES! There are millions of people in the world, why get caught up with what could have been with that one friend? The only problem is that you are narrowing your choices down massively. I say this, because I have made that mistake myself. I have never given myself enough time to develop my own identity. I have always rushed to find a new boyfriend immediately, taken up some odd hobby and started listening to a completely different genre of music, then ended up resenting the guys and being traumatised by the genre of music.

Have you ever met that kind of couple who admit they met on Tinder, only wanted sex and ended up falling for each other, getting married and all the rest of it? That is because they were being honest, they were preserving their integrity and saying “Hey, I don’t want to give you all of me just yet”. If someone does not want to give you all of them, it means that what they have is pretty damn valuable and you need to earn it.

If you feel that you are on a completely different level and you cannot live up to that expectation, perhaps don’t even try. You can learn things from people without visualizing marriage, a mortgage, children, family cars and golden retrievers. If someone sleeps with you, then leaves, pat yourself on the back. Someone finds you attractive enough to put themselves in those coordinates, but respects you enough to not want to change you. Don’t try to change them.

Wanting eternal commitment is something that affects lots of different things. It makes women particularly possessive, because they feel disturbed by the thought of their man’s sperm going to be seeded elsewhere, it makes them bitter and defensive about lots of things as a default state. Many a time, I have cracked jokes with women that men would never react to the way they did. This is not for any odd reason.

If you are thinking of having children, of course I don’t have to tell you how many would be saved by adoption and that you would be a perfect parent without a figure of the opposite sex to help you. People should be shifting towards this conscious state, which is to care for another human being regardless of whether they will carry your legacy into the future. Attempting to make your blood circulate into future generations is over rated. LOVE, on the other hand, isn’t. And you might find that people give a lot of it for many selfless reasons.

If you think you are incapable of bringing up a child on your own, perhaps you should not do it. My mother always used to tell me that you should only risk getting pregant if you know you can deal with being a mother. She was divorced by the time I was six. My father has always been close and helped when needed, but my mother could have done the job well on her own. Of course, it could happen by accident and that is a completely different story, but if having a child is your burning desire, I believe you should assess your life first.

Regardless of whether it takes two to tango, women do in fact have most of the power to make this decision. I say this because I tend to see women feeling more tormented about the fear of never having babies, but this is not a sexist post at all. However, if you are one of these women, you could visit a sperm bank or if you have an intimate relationship with someone you would like to have a child with, who says you need to be in an exclusive relationship that will last forever? With a good network of family and friends or even temporary lovers who might want to experience parenthood for a short time, you can do it, baby! It is better to be happy single than be in a forceful relationship. Expand your mind.

If you haven’t found a soulmate – and lucky are those who have, to whom this does not apply – you can still be an adequate person. I don’t think I have found a soulmate, but I think I am a pretty special person, I work very hard, I give a lot of love in what I do, I am independent and I love myself. If I don’t find a soulmate by the end of my optimal breeding period, I’d like to think I can raise a child, whether that will be an adopted refugee, a donor sperm baby or a lover’s child. However, that doesn’t mean I have to raise my child with someone whose principles don’t match mine. It is not healthy to be in a relationship that makes me feel dissatisfied, repressed, underconfident, distrusting, anxious and so on.

Be wise with the choices you make. Be with someone who is kind to you. There will be someone in the world who will not only listen to you, but they will hear you. Don’t let your biological clock push you into an alleyway, don’t let the fear of not being loved do that to you either. Work hard to give yourself the things you want. Stop trying so hard if you can, save money by not doing or owning too many things. Impress yourself with the ability to occasionally compromise so bigger things can come of it. Look after your body, eat well, exercise and do things that make you smile and laugh a lot. And I can assure you: you will find that person. If that person is reading this, they will also be nurturing their authentic self, so that when you meet, love is all there will be.