Facebook Likes Are Not A Measure of Value

A heartwarming story came across my Facebook page this week, about some kids whose dad told them if they got 1 million likes on their Facebook photo they could have a new puppy. They got their likes in about 7 hours and their dad has promised to keep his word and get them a (rescue) puppy.

Adorable kids + puppies = internet gold, right? It takes less than a second to click the little up-thumb and now – thanks to Facebook’s news ticker – all your friends can immediately see and join in. Then we can all pat ourselves on the back for doing something nice today.

Here is the part of the post where I turn into the a Puppy Hating Grinch who probably enjoys seeing kids cry: I think asking for attention on Facebook is a stupid – if not downright dangerous – lesson to teach children.

Why didn’t the father ask his children to save their allowance money to cover the adoption costs of a puppy? Or make a sticker chart for responsible behavior and once they had filled it the dog could be their reward? I’d even have less of a problem with simply waiting for a special occasion – a birthday perhaps – and surprising the kids with a trip to the shelter to bring home a puppy. The lesson learned could be about responsibility and delayed gratification and doing nice things for those we love – all important factors in dog ownership.

Instead, the lesson these kids learned is that the attention of a million strangers is valuable and that being Facebook famous is something to strive for. In a society where “internet famous” is mostly a negative thing – anyone remember when Tila Tequila was just someone with a ton of MySpace friends? – why would you encourage your kids to focus on that kind of popularity? I have no problem with anyone, adult or child, wanting to be well known for a legitimate reason. Fame in itself isn’t negative. It’s the “Look at me! Look at me!” attitude of Facebook fame that I take issue with. Get Facebook likes for being clever or original or an amazing artist or rescuing a three-legged puppy from a shelter and naming him Tripod.

I sincerely hope those kids get a new puppy and love it enormously. I’m sure this is nothing more than a fun anecdote they’ll tell someday when they get together for holidays (“Hey, remember the time we were on Good Morning America??”) I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with being liked. But I do think rewarding kids for the attention of strangers is a mistake. Let’s reward our kids for kindness, responsibility, patience,  wise choices and not running with sharp objects instead.

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22 Responses to “Facebook Likes Are Not A Measure of Value”

  1. MKP says:

    Yeah they should followed the President’s lead and rewarded the family IF AND ONLY IF he successfully got elected.

    I kid, I kid. I like your ideas of earning rather than demanding attention. Or just…having things you have to do even without a carrot on the stick.

  2. Megan B says:


    No, but seriously, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am glad they get a puppy, though.

  3. Meg says:

    I so agree with you. I really don’t have anything of value to add to this, just a virtual fist-bump of agreement. Because I’ve seen too many kids thinking that they can have whatever they want without working for it or earning it.

  4. Amy says:

    Well said. When the photo came across my feed I hovered over like because awwww kids want a dog and then didn’t like the photo because I am a jerk. Not only do I think kids should “earn” things in a different way, I think they would appreciate more if they worked harder for it. I also worry that this set a precedent for even more ridiculousness.

  5. barbra says:

    I agree. And my issues with this go even deeper. I saw this too and didn’t click like for this additional reason: I doubted they were real. Often scam and other shady internet folks create FB pages and put heartwarming photos on this to circulate and generate likes for the photo or page. They then sell that space to another entity who immediately has a million likes without having had to do anything of value. It’s bait and switch. I’m glad that these particular kids were real and I hope they get their puppy and love it to pieces. However, I completely agree about what kind of lesson did they learn. If dad didn’t want to teach a lesson about saving money or being responsible or delayed gratification, why such a strange requirement? Just buy them a puppy.

  6. raincheckmom says:

    Wow. Who are you???

    Just kidding! I totally agree but I have to remind myself you are a parent now and not my 14 year old daughter…

  7. Jess Judkins says:

    I saw that post and honestly was thinking the same exact thing. Why would this parent get his kids to do that. Im sure its some big hoax and some teenager at home who needed attention (likes) and made up this story.

  8. Sarah says:

    I hadn’t thought of it like that, but I totally agree!

  9. I saw that picture and I really thought to myself…are you kidding me? I hate FB. I am NEVER on there and when I am it’s litterally looking at a message or something quick. It drives me bonkers! Oh yea…I remember ol’ Tila Tequila. HA- so funny you remembered to throw her in.

    But, I see a lot of what you are talking about (not with kids) but about LIKE THIS for attention! It burns me up. I have a small town photography business and yea…there are a ton of other photographers in our area that are way better- more experienced. BUT, nowadays when people buy a DSLR- they just asume they are a photographer. LONG STORY SHORT– they will creat a FB page and every day say- share this photo to win a free shoot or LIKE MY PAGE, LIKE MY PAGE, LIKE MY PAGE…oh it drives me insane. IF THEY LIKE YOUR WORK…THEY WILL LIKE YOU PAGE, FOOL!

    Sorry, for all that jazz…THIS WAS A VERY GREAT POST!

    • bebehblog says:

      I do realize that as a blogger with a Facebook page, it’s a little hypocritical of me to say “Liking things on Facebook is stupid!” Because it DOES feel nice when people share and thumbs-up my work. But I am a grown up who has learned many times over the last 30 years that the approval of strangers means nothing in the long run (the same goes for the disapproval of strangers, really) and that most times no one gives you a puppy.

  10. Emily says:

    Now I feel guilty for liking the photo. I thought it was a strange requirement of a parent, but I guess he thought it really would amount to nothing. I mean if I did that (which I wouldn’t, but hypothetically), I would expect about 50 of my friends to like the picture, maybe a few of them would share it, but it would not be anywhere near a million people. I would think it was an unattainable goal, guaranteed to end with no puppy. It seems a bit pie in the sky, which is why the dad probably said it on a whim, without thinking much about it. And now he’s screwed… they have to get a puppy.

  11. molly says:

    Yeah, I need to quit asking people for facebook likes. I know it’s annoying and yet I still do it. My numbers are always making me feel like crap though! I know it shouldn’t matter because duh, I will never be internet famous. But sometimes the envy creeps in.

    I definitely would not have done that as a parent. I would have made them save their money.

  12. Erin says:

    Great post! Well said!!!

  13. Robyn says:

    I completely agree with you on the whole FB fame and attention thing. And the lessons that the dad just taught his kids, but I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here…

    when I saw the FB post, I actually thought it was one of those times when a parent makes a ridiculous request of their kid fully expecting and hoping that they won’t be able to follow through…that way dad doesn’t have to be the bad guy. Maybe that was what was going on? Still a stupid lesson, but I think it was an inadverent one.

  14. Alena says:

    I didn’t click on it because I hate those things. I hate them for nearly all the “Causes” and I thought a puppy was a really bad one. Plus I was feeling a little solidarity on the part of the dad who clearly didn’t realize that it was going to happen. He probably didn’t want to get them a puppy and was all “How can I make this something that isn’t ever going to happen”. He underestimated the cute of his own kids.

  15. Audrey says:

    I guess it speaks to the cynicism of most of the people I’m friends with on Facebook that I have no idea what you are talking about. lol!

  16. Great post, I completely agree!

  17. cakeburnette says:

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant. You, Swistle and Temerity Jane (Kelly) need to run the world!

  18. I love this! Beautifully and passionately said…

  19. Galit Breen says:

    Amen to every last bit of this.

    We have yet to see the effects of being raised in such a social media entrenched society, but the attention getting lesson *mixed with* all of that social media? Makes me shudder.

    Really important topic and post.

  20. Alison says:

    What Galit said, because she said it so well and I agree. I saw this post and didn’t even click on the story, because my first thought was, why on earth would you expose your child to the entire universe?

    Great post!

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