We all do it, clicking away as a sign of approval for whatever we may like. But, that’s not completely a new way of doing things. We don’t need to look back that far to find similar behavior. For example, the Hobo Code, also known as the Hobo Alphabet, could be considered a precursor to the facebook “like” button.
Hobos used to carve such symbols into fences, walls, and posts, as a way to inform, or warn, other fellow traveling vagabonds. I call it Hobo-networking. It started with the Gypsy Alphabet in Europe, which got updated when it became the Norwegian, and later the British Hobo Code. And, sure they had a lot more options then we do. But I think that symbols such as “Good place for a handout”, “Good place to catch a train” or “Alcohol in this town”, would definitely qualify as a 1930′s version of a facebook “Like”. And since the life of 1930′s tramp was a lot more perilous than whether the latest cute kitten pic was worth “liking” or not, they also had the equivalent of a “dislike” button. Symbols such “Man with gun lives here”, and “Be ready to defend yourself”, would definitely qualify as a bad review. Worthy of a “dislike” button, I would say.
So, in conclusion, even when the stakes aren’t that high, humans have a need to share what they like. Whether it’s letting each other know that we can get drunk here without being shot, or whether it’s letting each other know that some pic, or some article is worthy of our time, adding our approval on things, is just something we’ve always done.
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NATNOTE: Personally, I see them new fangled “google-glasses” as the next step in our ever-evolving quest of tagging what we like.