Facebook-Like-Button-ClickFacebook can be an incredible platform that individuals use to express themselves. It can also be a smattering of half-formed opinions and food pictures. I’m not saying the two are mutually exclusive. I’m also not saying I’m very selective when it comes to Facebook friends. Whatever your attitude, this social media behemoth is likely a fixture in your daily routine.

Some use Facebook to stay caught up on the developing lives of their friends, some use it to espouse political views, some just aggregate articles about events, the conclusions of which you are unlikely to believe. In all cases, Facebook allows us to put ourselves out there. Unlike a diary entry, we know that the world will see our writings to Facebook. This is our chance to be vindicated. It’s not private; it’s personal.

If Facebook is a marketplace, its currency is the “like.” Depending on the saturation of your social network, the “like” may be more or less inflated. As users, we can print as many “likes” as we like, and yet, we don’t. Think about how easy it is to “like” something on Facebook. While reading that sentence and this one, you could have digested and decided to “like” two pictures of beer, a quote about Mondays, and Jessica’s Buzzfeed quiz results. It’s not effortless; it’s mindless. All it takes is a mouse click, but the message sent carries more weight. By “liking” a post, you’re affirming someone else’s diary entry. You’re saying, “Good for you,” or “No, you’re not crazy.” Not every post can earn a “like.”

Here’s where the brain gets us in trouble:

Let’s say my post about how it’s fall but it doesn’t feel like fall got seven “likes.” Adam’s post about grocery shopping got three “likes,” and one was from his mom. I am, if not better than, then at least more special than Adam. Being special is important — more important than being good. As long as I stand out.

By offering support via a “like,” we tickle that little part of a person’s brain that needs to feel special. My clever weather post took some wit. I mean I really connected some dots for that one. I even employed some wordplay. I deserve to feel better about myself than Adam. Fewer “likes” for me would be a social (media) injustice.

So, what does it say when someone does not choose to “like” your post? Obviously, they didn’t read it. I’m great, and if they had read it, they would have “liked” it. They probably weren’t on Facebook when my post was on their newsfeed.

If you don’t think Facebook feeds your neurosis, you’re either lying to yourself, or you’re just not special enough to get a bunch of “likes.” The self-worth we place in social media leads to some uncomfortable situations when the real world intersects with the virtual one.

Let’s say I run into Adam at the park. I tell him a hilarious thought I had about the weather and how strangely it had been behaving recently. He says in response, “Ha, I know, I saw your Facebook post.” Adam has gashed me. He was not one of seven people to “like” my witty post, and yet I now know that he read it. Furthermore, I know how easy it is to “like” a post on Facebook, which implies to me that Adam actually dislikes my post. If it wasn’t a terrible, off-the-mark observation, then maybe he would have taken two seconds to “like” it. My thoughts are not valuable. I check back on Facebook that afternoon. Adam’s post now has eight “likes.” I am a shell.

Can’t you see the danger? Don’t let your identity get tied up in social media. No amount of “likes” can define you as an individual. Facebook won’t keep you warm at night. There’s a value to reading books and cooking good meals. Spend some time outside. Hug a dog. Dance like no one’s watching. And please, if you don’t hate me and my ideas/face, share this article with other people.