We are living in a political and cultural moment increasingly defined by dehumanization. Many of the crimes of our age are predicated on a profound dislike of the other.”The Dehumanizing Politics of Likability by Teow Lim Goh, August 21, 2019.
Whoa! What a statement! It puts a pin on the importance of likability — in all its forms, including social media.
“ . . . dialogue on social media . . . breeds an inability to treat anyone — likable or not — with civility and respect . . . This all raises the question: why is likability even relevant?” I sure don’t have an answer, but I love the question.
Traits and Qualities
What are some qualities of people or groups or organizations that make them likable or unlikable? Taking a wild guess, I imagine this isn’t something you go around thinking about.
I consider guns and gun shows unlikable. You won’t see me at any of those kinds of events. I do know that people who like guns really like their guns.
I respect a person’s right to own one — with conditions. I’m afraid of them. I’m not alone.
Paul has his grandfather’s gun. I couldn’t find it in the house if my life depended on it — just the way I like it.
Hospitals and pet rescue organizations are likable. They make positive contributions to our society. They are in the business of healing and helping. They don’t injure, maim, or kill.
I dislike hunting for sport. I’ll never understand it and I know a few hunters. Some call it population control.
Once I saw a cartoon (hardly funny) with two deer talking, “Let them thin out their own damn herd.” The deer are under thick brush peering at the hunters who can’t see them. The hunters are standing close — guns at the ready.
An early advocate of animal rights, philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) said, “The question is not, ‘can they reason?’ nor, ‘can they talk?’ but, ‘can they suffer?’” http://www.kidadl.com
On a personal level
Like? Dislike? It’s a spirited topic. People’s feelings are involved. I don’t want to dislike anyone. I don’t want to be disliked. Call me pollyannaish.
I had a good co-worker friend tell me, “You’re like a puppy. You want everyone to like you.” Guilty.
Celebrities live for this. I think it’s a popular concept on social media — showing your good side. These days we live in a thumbs up/thumbs down world.
But wait a minute, does this sound narcissistic? Never mind.
Better hold my horses — being liked by everyone might not be so grand after all. It sounds a tad weird.
Trying too hard
All my life I have wanted to be liked. Isn’t this natural? Isn’t it still true? I mean, who wants to be disliked? Who wants to be the alternate cheerleader?
I’ve had the opportunity in the past year to make new friends. I enjoyed the company and conversation. I was on my best behavior.
I wanted to be liked. It would be great having new friends.
I wanted to be one of those people who was remarkably likable. You know the type.
They walk into a room and it’s like the dimmer light switch is pushed up — kind of like Norm on Cheers. Maybe you are like this.
Now that I’m retired, even thinking about being liked or disliked is foolish. It is immaterial and doesn’t cross my mind sans my cousin, Marie. More about her in a moment.
So many ways these days to be liked or disliked. How about these?
- Sharing too many photos on Facebook
- Posting a close-up profile photo
- Having too many or too few friends on FB. (The sweet spot is about 300 friends.)
If you had 100 friends, you were considered unlikable. A 2014 survey found that the average FB friends among adult users was 338.
I’m not on FB and don’t know how things work. I don’t know if these numbers sound reasonable or made up. Can’t believe everything I read on the net!
People have every right to feel however they wish about others. They may be of the opinion there are worthless individuals. Think hate groups. Or kindness and empathy may be felt toward the homeless by anyone at all.
Like I said, it might be weird to be liked by everyone — but were it a possibility, would that be such a bad thing? Harmony?
How I feel
I don’t think I hold much ill will (dislike) toward anyone. Introvert that I sometimes am, I’m not around many groups of people anymore.
There’s that rascal attorney who treated me shabbily without good cause.
Or the occasional delivery driver who turns around in the driveway and rolls over the grass. And then there’s the guy next door who’s selling his house.
Tad more ill will than I thought.
I don’t hold animosity toward anyone I can think of. That’s a strong, negative feeling.
I’m not looking to carry emotional baggage. It requires a lot of energy.
Do I feel disliked? I don’t “feel” disliked, though people can be good actors. Are things said that hurt my feelings on occasion? Of course. It’s normal.
I know I do things better left undone or unsaid. I hope I’m forgiven.
To me, this is a feeling of inner peace. Just sitting with like and dislike. I’m comfortable with my compass and make adjustments along the way. I still need it for my journey.
Was it dislike or was it my imagination?
It felt like dislike. She said it was a matter of believing what I wanted to believe. Maybe so. My low self-esteem could have been in overdrive. Do as I wish she said. I’m talking about Marie.
No telling what she may have going on in her life. It’s very possible she just never had time for a quick thinking of you email. People are busy these days.
We were close growing up. The sister I never had. We are the same age. When my parents left Kentucky, we drifted apart. I loved Marie.
Her life seemed charmed. I was envious. We have kept in touch off and on through the years — a tad more so since the internet.
There’s hardly a way I can express how I feel without sounding like a whining, driveling, pathetic disaster, desperate to be liked and acknowledged.
If I went into reasons why I felt these vibes, it would serve no purpose; no one wants to hear it, me included.
After years of receiving what felt like unlikable vibes, I finally asked the question. I came right out and said in an email, “Why do you dislike me?” I felt an urgency to clear the air — tired of talking about it in therapy.
I wish I had phoned her instead and I did very early in our email discussion. These talks are best had “live” if one is open to real communication. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t handle this better.
She said she didn’t dislike me. After a little bit, it came out that my vibes weren’t far off. But, really, it wasn’t as if I didn’t have an inkling. I see this as progress.
I was looking for clarification. I got it. It is relief. These days I’m trying to clear my head and heart of things that weigh me down. I have no ill will or animosity about this. I love her honesty. This is the stuff of life.
I emailed her expressing my genuine appreciation for telling me. I said it helps a lot.
But don’t we get the drift when we feel disliked or when someone starts distancing themselves from us?
Actions, words, behaviors, a look, tone of voice say a lot.
Maybe I disliked her. I don’t like I would feel that way, but now I’m awakened to the possibility. I’ll work things through.
I have to laugh …
The story I just told sounds like a pity party. “My cousin doesn’t like me and I’ve tried so hard to be accepted by her.” Boo-hoo. Sniffle. Sniffle.
After leaving two messages for Marie to return my calls, she didn’t. Feels like rejection. Nothing new here.
And honestly, I’m laughing this time. As Bob Dylan sings, “I used to care, but things have changed.” As I age, I care more yet care less.
Live and learn
The reason I am so anti-dislike is simple. I don’t want anyone dying on my watch. I would feel so bad if I harbored dislike/ill will/animosity toward a person in my life and they passed away.
I wouldn’t want to live the rest of my days knowing I felt like that toward another human being I cared about. I wouldn’t want that living in my consciousness. If I can prevent that, I will try.
Sometimes I feel like I have not fully matured into adulthood. It may show in some of my posts. I still feel and act childish at times.
I don’t know how to turn this around exactly. And mostly, I don’t think I want to at the moment.
Life is a progression. I’m fine right now just trying to unearth my own Self. I’m in here somewhere.
Thich Nhat Hahn
October 11, 1926 – January 22, 2022
Thank you for reading. I accept comments from likers and dislikers! The Bruno Papers is an equal opportunity website.