The Currency of Likes

February 24th, 2014

It’s bad enough that one of our local hospital emergency rooms has a highway billboard distracting motorists with an LED display of the minutes you’ll wait before anyone will attend to your urgent needs. The sign also suggests that incoming patients text the ER, presumably to check in from the site of the emergency, which could be very close to that billboard if drivers take their eyes off the road to wonder at the sign itself.

Emergency Room Billboard
Image Source Unknown

But this lunacy is eclipsed on the lawn beside a large orthopedic care center, where a twinkling marquee urges passing motorists to “LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.” Will this exhortation induce you, driving on a a major cross-town 4-lane artery, to follow doctors’ orders? Are you going to pull over to the side of the street just up ahead or remember to spend some quality time with Facebook after you get home? Fat chance. If you are going to do any “liking” at all, you are probably going to do it on a phone—and while rolling along.

So even though texting while driving is illegal in Florida, doctors who treat automobile accident victims are asking their past, present, and possibly future patients, to multitask, to surf or scroll to the orthopods’ Facebook page to “support” this team in white coats by clicking on that innocent little Facebook thumbs-up symbol.

Why would anyone do this? What good karma are you creating? What are you paying forward when you click? Will anyone in the medical practice “like” you back for your kind attention? Give you priority seating or cappuccino in their waiting room? Be inclined to stitch more carefully when you need tibial reconstruction or a hip replacement? We wouldn’t bank on it.

Vintage S & H Green Stamps
Image Source Unknown

With so many of us liking away our days, maybe we need to wipe off the lens of time, to apply hindsight to see that likes are a currency as ephemeral as those mid-century S & H Green stamps and cereal box-tops, earned and hoarded for future rewards like casserole dishes and secret decoder rings.

But in terms of their seductive power, likes are probably closer to frequent flier miles: it’s pretty easy to rack them up, but there are far surer– and safer– ways to reach your destination.

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