An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg On The Virtues Of Acknowledgment

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

You know I don’t ask for much. But how do you think it makes me feel when I post a status with its usual incisive wit and insight to only then find myself checking my profile every 10 minutes just to see if it got over 4 measly “likes”? I’m not asking for mandatory comments or “likes” here, and certainly none of that “Seen” business you installed on the messenger. All I’m suggesting, Mr. Zuckerberg, is that an “acknowledge” button would be nice.

What kind of society is it you’d like to create in your corner of the Internet? One based on mutual respect and recognition or one based on masturbatory and anarchic social impulses? I read an entire New York Times article the other week, wrote up a nice two-sentence critique of it, pasted the entire thing onto my Timeline and guess what? Twenty minutes later, one “like”. What are you going to tell me, that my 843 friends just scrolled on by my link without even a pause? That they didn’t smile and nod their heads and, despite themselves, feel some degree of catharsis while reading my commentary? I hate to pepper you with rhetorical questions here Mr. Zuckerberg, but you have to understand my position.

I’m asking for proof. Proof that what I post isn’t just some blur people scroll past on their newsfeed. I could help you devise a system. If a user leaves their cursor lingering over a particular post or picture for more than five seconds, a pop-up window could appear asking the user if they would like to “acknowledge” the post. A polite reminder to people that the content they’re enjoying is the product of someone else’s hard work and thought. Do you think I like taking out my phone at every meal of the day and figuring out which filter will make the food look good enough to make other people feel jealous? It takes commitment and aesthetic sensibility, skills that I don’t think are being sufficiently rewarded by the total of 14 “likes” I have on my latest breakthrough album, “FALL PICS/AUTUMN NOMS!”

So what’s it going to be Mark? I could air out my political frustrations by having real conversations with people, leading my views to be challenged and eventually honed. I could enjoy the present moment of a party or a dinner without concern for group photos taken to commemorate time spent planning group photos. Hell, I could even go meet new people instead of stalking people I’m already tired of knowing in real life. These are the alternatives you leave me with Mark. I hope you at least do me the service of acknowledging this letter.

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