As of yesterday, I’ve now had this site on Micro.blog for two weeks. So far, I’ve really been enjoying the experience. It’s been interesting to realise that I actually do have lots to share when I have a consolidated space that feels like mine to share them, and rather than letting those stray thoughts go, I’ve been typing them up and putting them into posts (or drafts) more often. In line with POSSE(external link), this has also prompted me to post more things on traditional social media, which has made me feel a bit more connected with some of those friends and relatives I probably should’ve been making more of an effort with all along. Good developments! And I’ve also found that the Micro.blog community itself is pretty awesome – people are generally nice, post interesting things, and it seems to be the perfect size for the “Discover” page to work really well, as a kind of curated highlights of everyone’s posts.

One thing that I have been missing from traditional social media while over here is “likes”, or instant feedback buttons generally. Micro.blog has made the deliberate decision not to incorporate these, stating:

If you like something and want the author to know it, you can reply. We believe this encourages more thoughtful sharing.

…and this is fine; I mean, I understand this logic! I guess the struggle I’ve had is that when I see a photo I like of a cute animal or pretty landscape or something like that, I don’t usually have a whole enlightening response to type out in return. But I still do like the idea of the post creator knowing at least someone saw and appreciated their post. So, I’ve been making the effort to type out one or two-sentence comments, trying to tailor them a bit to the specific post (because something generic like “Great photo!” sounds like it could’ve been pumped out by a spam bot, you know?). I’m probably not replying to every post I see that I would’ve hit the “like” button on, but I’m feeling pretty virtuous nonetheless.

…and it is funny, in some ways, because when I was much younger and had a blog there were no “like” buttons then. You did have to comment if you wanted someone to know their post was read and made at least a momentary impact on someone else. It didn’t feel like a big deal then, so why does it feel like an effort now? Has modern social media changed our expectations, made us feel like we should be able to interact on a post with one click of a button? But then at the same time, honestly, is it really a bad thing to make interactions so easy?

I guess my feeling is this: if someone was wavering between leaving a comment or just hitting the “like” button, it’d be better to push them to leave that comment, because a comment is usually more meaningful to the post author than a mere “like”. On the other hand, if the absence of a “like” button would make that person not interact at all, then as a post author I’d kinda prefer they have a “like” button to enable that low-effort interaction. You could even offer a few different emoji reactions, as Facebook now does. The Micro.blog userbase seems actually pretty good at putting the effort into leaving real comments, but on some other sites (or if I had a blog that wasn’t integrated into a social media platform like this), this lack can result in people making post after post that gets no apparent response, and feeling like they’re shouting into the void. This is definitely something I’ve experienced when I’ve tried blogging on Dreamwidth(external link) over the last couple of years. Now, to be fair, I don’t know that “like” buttons would have fixed the problem, considering that finding blogs you actually want to read is also much harder over there, but it is a question they’ve grappled with(external link) more than once(external link) nonetheless.

Now, you can post likes with the Webmentions standard(external link), but this isn’t an aspect of Webmentions that Micro.blog currently supports, and honestly the extent to which support for this has been implemented across different platforms looks so variable and messy that I think this would be hard for non-techies to use, at present. So for the time being, I think leaving actual comments on blogs is something I’ll have to reconcile myself to. And as I mentioned, there are plus sides to making myself to do this. However… I still kind of miss my “like” buttons 😭