The other day I found myself over at Yelp.com clicking “like” on a bunch of Half Moon Bay restaurants. After a while I noticed that I was only clicking “like” on restaurants that were cool, hip, high end, or had extraordinary experiences.
That’s cool. I’m sure you’re doing the same thing.
But then I started noticing that I wasn’t behaving with integrity. What do I mean by that? What I was presenting to you wasn’t reality.
See, I like McDonalds and Subway. But I wasn’t clicking like on those. Why not?
Because we want to present ourselves to other people the way we would like to have other people perceive us as.
Translation: I’d rather be seen as someone who eats salad at Pasta Moon than someone who eats a Big Mac at McDonalds.
This is the problem with likes and other explicit sharing systems. We lie and we lie our asses off.
So, will we be rewarded for being honest with the system and each other?
How could we find out you like Big Macs too?
Well, we could give you a free one if you click like on McDonalds. If you really despise McDonalds you won’t accept the bribe anyway. That will out you and expose the secret lie you’ve been living.
Or, we could reward you for turning on a permanent tracking system so we could study where you REALLY visit.
But all this liking, er, lying, has me thinking. Just how accurate is all that data that Foursquare is collecting? After all, are you checking in only at cool places? Or are you also checking in at gas stations, super markets, or other lower-class places that you don’t really want to advertise that you’re at?
Is this a new bastion of privacy? One where we want to lie to each other without getting called out because we were just caught eating a Big Mac?
What else are we lying about to the companies that are studying us?
Did you delete that you were listening to Kenny G on your Facebook profile and Pandora and put something cooler in there? (I did, after all, we’re living in the like economy and there’s nothing worse than having my friends realize I listen to Kenny G).
So, why is this an economy?
Well, you are already getting free stuff for checking in. Starbucks is giving you a buck off if you become a mayor. You really want to lie to all of us and say you drink Peets or, even better, some local brand that is hipper and better than Starbucks. So now Starbucks has to bribe you to get you to stop lying to the world. That’s an economy of likes, er, lies.
How else can we make money off of our lies?