Go on, like my photo, make my day

In this hellish dystopia we find ourselves living in, we all know that the only measure of individual worth comes from the number of likes on our profile pictures. Equally, the only validation we can find in this internet age utterly barren of personal relationships, the reassurances of family, faith and the moral certainty that came before we all spent inordinate amounts of time staring at flickering blue screens come with the number of likes publicly accrued on pictures, posts, and comments, in the only arena of competition that really matters anymore Facebook. In Samuel Beckett’s words, we need Facebook to “remind us we exist”.

With all of that in mind, look no further for an only partially sarcastic tutorial on how to maximise the arbitrary number of people contributing to your happiness by mindlessly pressing a button and delivering you that longed-for hit of dopamine, which we used to be able to produce naturally, without the help of Mark Zuckerberg’s enormous network of insecurity disguised as friendship.

1. Timing. Just like with comedy, successfully garnering likes on a profile picture is heavily reliant on impeccable timing. There are a variety of avenues to be explored in attempting to swell those precious digits of endorsement, from which we gain so much pleasure. An age-old tactic is to upload the pic directly after hall, but before pressing start (between 8-8.30pm), a time when a blanket of slightly bored and listless student types across your social network will inevitably be staring into the infinite abyss of their news feeds, thus maximising your coverage. The added bonus of aiming for this timeslot on a club night (Thurs- days are probably your best bet) is that you inevitably end up receiving a flood of drunken likes later on in the evening quite possibly from former partners, or quite inhibited types who can’t quite bring themselves to press the big blue button unless under the influence.

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Another strategy that I recently came across was the controversial early morning posting. Aiming for somewhere between 7.30-8am allows you to latch on to the legions of young people who immediately turn to the internet to pass the time between waking up and actually doing something productive with their day. It’s best to aim for a morning when people will actually be up before noon (Monday is my personal favourite), but this methodology does make something of a gamble in hoping that the picture will stay high enough on news feeds over the course of the day to doubly benefit from the aforementioned late night rush, but if it pays off then it can pay enormous dividends.

There is an enormous divergence of schools of thought in the timing of a post, and I have seen many other, less traditional techniques work to great effect.

2. Content. The actual content of a profile picture is difficult to systematise, but generally the really successful ones tend to score highly in at least one of the following categories:

a) Conventional attractiveness. Let’s not beat around the bush here – conventionally attractive people tend to get a higher number of likes, and this fact is part of the reason that getting likes is such a desirable goal. This box can also be ticked by having someone else considerably more attractive than you in the picture as well.

b) Character. Does the profile picture perfectly encapsulate ‘you’? Does it display a facet of your character that your Facebook friends will instantly recognise and reflect ‘oh that’s SO you!’ Are you a tireless hack? A Union picture won’t go far amiss. Do you have delusions of indie-dom? Something arty and deep calls for you from the depths of your disposable.

c) Artistic quality of the picture (closely interlinked with ‘indie’ subsection of B). Photography is actually really hard, so a properly lit, high quality and well-composed picture can be vital to your efforts.

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3.Originality. This final factor must be kept in mind when posting on large groups or events. Now when I say originality, I don’t mean bizarre, off the wall, random ludicrousness – it needs to be something everybody viewing the post can relate to. You must channel the zeitgeist of the feelings of the mob, capitalise on an injustice they can all relate to, and ride the tidal wave of popular support like a demagogue.

Similarly, you can capitalise in student circles on the all too true clichés of the iniquities of the world we live in. Oxford is particularly ripe for this strand which leans into profoundly imaginative satire, but again plugging into a broadly accepted narrative that something isn’t quite right.

With these handy tips, you’ll be better prepared to revel in our cult of vacuity and mindless narcissism which, as the world increasingly goes to hell in a handcart, is the only thing that makes life worth living. But don’t be downhearted. Your self-worth won’t be devalued because of your subscription to our modern societal norms. You’re simply teaching yourself how to survive in this world where the amount of likes you have on your profile picture correlates directly to your personal happiness and sanity. Feed your ego. You deserve it, you delicious little social climber