A big thumbs-up to Amazon and Smashwords after they introduced a Like feature recently on their book pages. Many of us are so busy greading that there’s no time any more to read reviews, let alone write them.
What I like about Like is that it requires no thought or time at all. It’s an entirely involuntary reaction, like a smile or a wave. You’re out shopping or running an errand in WebLand: you can’t just stop and chat with everyone you meet, or you’ll never get home. But a Like just lets them know that you’ve seen them, that all’s well with the world, that you’ll get together and catch up sometime – even if you’re busy right now. It makes the world a better place, full of shiny happy people.
But it’s important not read too much into a Like. Just because I Like you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to have your babies. Let me illustrate.
Yesterday was a special day for me, an occasion. As you know, my TwitFace schedule doesn’t allow me a lot of time for getting out. In fact, it was the first time I’d left the house for three months. But I’d been unlocked from my computer chair, and there I was, on the train, heading south, to visit my aged parent.
It was in London that I saw the girl. All the seats were taken, so I stood next to the door, rucksack at my feet, laptop on my shoulder. I scanned the passengers, reading newspapers, text-messages, ads, thrillers. I made a mental note. Write in 15-minute segments: aim for the commuter-market. ‘Short is more’.
But she was different. She was reading on a Kindle. I Liked that. Maybe she sensed it. She glanced up. I let her know. Thumbs-up and a smile.
I sensed her coloring as she went back to her reading. Perhaps it was my book! What a coincidence that would have been. Did she look like one of my readers? Did my readers look like her? As our eyes touched again, I gave her two thumbs-up.
She turned to the guy on the seat next to her, and whispered. He looked at me, curious, rose. We’d connected.
- Hey man, why you coming on to my woman?
- No, not coming on. I was just Liking her.
- You gotta be kidding me.
- I thought maybe we could be friends.
Well, clearly he wasn’t a Facebook user. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before the next stop, and although not having my glasses meant I couldn’t post last night, I’ve been able to get a new pair this morning. So no permanent damage, only bruising.
I never did manage to ask if it was my book she was reading.