Imagine, just before leaving home in the morning, you shoot an unnecessary “Headed to work, BLAH!” into Facebook. Halfway through your trip your cousin Sandra in Ohio sees your post and hits the “like” button. Moments later your stupid looking jacket begins to inflate and you are delivered to the pleasant sensation of being hugged.
It could be viewed as a step in innovation, a slight shove into the realm of more interactive technology…but perhaps more poignantly, at least at the moment, it highlights our desperate need for attention. It’s conceivable that it’s always been like this, maybe teenagers and young adults have always been brooding egomaniacs, thinking up ways to get positive feedback from their environment. Wait, now that I’ve put it that way, I’m certain that’s how it has always been. But now, thanks to social networking, those egos have been unleashed into the world and encouraged like never before.
Of course Like-A-Hug’s designers Melissa Kit Chow, Andy Payne and Phil Seaton of MIT Media Lab are not very likely to be malicious thinkers, desperate to take advantage of the fragile emotions of young people. More likely they are just innovative folks who identified an opportunity to make something interesting. But the fact that Like-A-Hug sounds even marginally viable is not good news, because the last thing anyone needs is something else to stoke the ego of so-called “millennials.”
That’s why I propose that the Like-A-Hug (and similar technologies) also include a negative feedback option. Ideally this would mean that when someone doesn’t like that 93rd photo of your cat, they have the option to deliver you a small electrical shock, a less than friendly “hey, knock it the hell off.” But alas, that’s not the world we live in. And of course it’s not that I don’t dig innovative tech or social networking. We just don’t have to be bitches about it.