Tim Likes this.

Pretty much everyone is a Facebook user these days, so it’s safe to assume that just about everyone knows what Liking is. Oh, I Like that photo. And that page. And that comment. I also like that message my friend sent me but unfortunately I can’t Like it (the best I can do right now is send them back a big, fat thumbs-up).

Facebook chose the name Like for this interaction because it describes possibly the most common of human sentiments: liking. It’s not as strong as favoriting, not as committal as recommending and much more human than +1ing. It’s just liking.

But the interesting thing is that Liking is not the same as liking. If they were the same, we wouldn’t have to distinguish them visually. (And when talking, we often quickly mutter “on Facebook” after the word Like, for want of such a distinction in speech.) The version with the lowercase L, of course, refers to the human emotion, while the version with the capital L refers to clicking a certain button. I’m not convinced that every Like is a like. Sometimes, for example, I might Like something as a quick way to say, “I saw this,” or, “I’m thinking about you.” But maybe there’s something in that click that tries to convince my brain that I actually do like that thing I just Liked. The idea is worth exploring.

In any case, evidently Facebook is the only one who doesn’t recognize this difference: Throughout the site, you’ll see that “So-and-so likes this,” rather than “So-and-so Likes this.” This means that we’ve created an orthographic convention that refers to a specific location, and that convention is followed everywhere in the world except that specific location. Which is really bizarre if you think about it.

Meanwhile, we can add an extra entry to the list of words whose meaning changes when the first letter is capitalized. This means, of course, that our cultural values are such that Liking things is right up there with Truth.

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