Blog: What's not to 'like'?

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Posted by: Creative Times

on April 16, 2012 15:57

Designer and illustrator Matt Jeffs doesn’t want you to ‘like’ this article. So don’t even think about it…

I will admit this is not as big an issue as Spec work or world hunger, but it is still a problem. Unfortunately, while little problems are fine on their own, they rarely stay that way. Instead, they gang up on you in larger numbers and pretty soon you have one big problem. The problem I speak of is the ‘like’ button, the festering malignancy of the design (and creative) scene.

The ‘like’ button is the festering malignancy of the design (and creative) scene.

Clicking ‘like’ reduces us and our work to a popularity contest and encourages lazy thinking. It is no more than a shrug of the shoulders or a wave of the hand. It teaches us to be satisfied with something that has all the meaning of the latest tween sensation’s pop hit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to shout and froth at the mouth if you decide to ‘like’ a picture of a puppy or if you’re agreeing with a statement, but we should respect our fellow creatives more. It may however be a symptom of a greater sickness in our culture – the confusion between popularity and quality. When so-called artists whose only real talent lies in self promotion produce pile after pile of cack and earn millions in the process, it’s hard to not to fall in line with this kind of thinking.

We have a rich and beautiful language with which to express how something makes us feel (especially the swear words) and we need to use it far more. Nonetheless, if the stick wasn’t enough to motivate you here is the big bright orange carrot – booting up your critical faculties on behalf of fellow creatives will also benefit you in the long run too. Brains need exercise, so are you really content to let your mind wallow on the sofa of mental mediocracy, clicking ‘like’ as if you were some kind of bleating livestock? Or do you want to blow the dust off your flabby grey matter and show the world that the creative industry is no place for slackers?

If you really like something, engage your brain and leave a comment, give some honest decent feedback – ‘nice one mate’ won’t teach anyone anything. I’m not suggesting we start tearing each other to shreds, that many egos deflating overnight would cause Shoreditch to be engulfed in a big salty flood of tears. However, we do all need thick skins in this industry and too often we underestimate the value of a fresh perspective, even if that perspective contains unpalatable truths. In fact I dare say those are even more valuable. Of course it is important to trust ourselves, but the eyes of another can bring to light flaws we may have missed, or open up new paths to take.

I would rather have one well thought-out comment left on my work than a hundred ‘likes’. I know what will help me more in the long run.

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