Based on my extensive research on how people respond to my Facebook posts, I’ve come up with this handy, dandy list of what will make you loved and adored. Facebook style, that is. It’s a little dopamine hit every time you see those “likes,” “hearts” and comments and that's a big perk of posting. Though I don’t think St. Peter is adding them up. Nevertheless, here are some tips:
1) Images outdo words in that one-picture-is-worth-a-thousand of them way.
2) Short is better than long. Think haiku instead of epic poetry, the ad jingle over the philosophical essay.
3) Grief, sorrow, political outrage are not best-sellers. If people wanted to go to the dark side, they would have opened the news instead of Facebook
4) However, personal problems that ask for suggestions can do well—everyone likes to exercise their empathy genes and show off their advice wisdom. (Or perhaps get some secret pleasure that someone else is suffering more than them?)
5) Photos of your dinners are low-down on the list and just make people hungry or angry that they can’t afford the restaurant you went to.
6) Photos of you from long ago are a bit of a hit, especially if you’re bald or white haired and used to be a hippy with long flowing locks or a big Afro.
7) You get more response if you stay in your lane. People who know me from my music classes are happier to hear me talk about teaching music or seeing a photo of the same because it calls up their feeling of when we were together in the music class. My thoughts about Zen Buddhism or poetry are not best-sellers.
8) Extra points if you have a silly Halloween photo of you and two beloved colleagues—triple your likes!
9) If the last three examples show you (and others) in an exuberant moment of joy (as my dancing with kids photo from 1978 just did), the hearts come pouring in.
10) The number-one sure-fire hit? Babies! (Except not right after they’re born.)
The punchline? This exhaustive sociological study shows that humans are made for joy, connection, empathy. Even though we’re vulnerable to the hate speech and the spun lies of you-know-who and the you-know-which-news-station and that also gives us a certain energy, at our core, we’d rather give helpful advice, offer our Facebook-friend shoulder, feel the connection, share the laughter and joy, feel our hope and faith for the future of humanity uplifted by the photo of a baby brimming with human possibility. There’s no avoiding conflict, suffering, the dark side of life, but Facebook confirms that we’re all yearning and leaning toward the light. Let us organize our lives—our families, our schools, our politics, accordingly.
Now please click “Like.”