Facebook is phenomenally popular for many reasons.
But I think the voting system — specifically the “like” button — is key. It makes the site inherently positive. That’s the core principle at work.
On Facebook, it’s easy to like things. It requires a simple click.
There’s no elegant way to dislike something.
People try. There are groups that petition the company to add a dislike button.
There are scams — virus installers that offer to add a dislike button.
Frequently, people post negative material and receive sympathetic comments. After all, it’s a place for friends. But negative thoughts are not the standard fare. They don’t get a lot of traction on Facebook.
A friend of mine once posted that his truck caught fire, and another friend clicked that he “liked” it. That struck me as pretty funny (knowing both guys). So I liked it too.
But it wasn’t very nice. Certainly not positive.
The normal activity is to share what’s good about life. Certainly the act of sharing what’s good entices people to seek more experiences of the good.
My theory is that this increases real life appreciation of what feels good, which, in turn, actually makes people feel better.
The evening news programs are sponsored by drug companies, many of them advertising antidepressants. These companies also advertise with Google. I’ve never seen antidepressants advertised on Facebook.
Facebook is an ingenious company and well-made site. Some say it is trying to take over the internet, or even be the internet. I say the the heart of the matter is the ubiquitous “like” button, the ease of clicking it, the support it offers, and the constant mindset it creates, inviting people to share what can only be liked (or ignored). It is this that makes Facebook more than social networking. It’s an interactive engine for positive thinking about our lives.
In a vast internet sea of free thought and information that runs the gamut from hilarious to horrible, Facebook simply encourages people to think, be, and do positive.
And people like that.