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Craig Purcell

Like some of you, I have to admit there was a time in my life when other people’s opinions of me mattered.

I’ve always been introverted, so I was not a charter member of the “cool kids” table in the lunchroom. At best, my athletic skills may have been average, so I was never the one chosen first for the team. Still, it was important to my growing psyche to feel I was liked.

Flash forward the three or four decades since I was in school, and now I am who I am, like me or not.

With the advent of the almighty Facebook came the “like” button. It’s a simple little click you can use to broadcast your preferences to marketers the world over. Say you “like” discount razors, and the ads on your page will start advertising razors. “Like” your favorite sports team, and you’ll start seeing ads for gear with their logo on it.

I’ve yet to read any reports where the person who clicked “like” the most times received any sort of prize, but I’d swear there must be people who think they’re competing for one.

Case in point — I recently advertised a used window air conditioner on a Facebook page dedicated to people buying or selling items in a given area. I’m a writer, so I could have trumped up my copy by saying, “This colossus of cooling pumps out a bone-chilling 8,000 BTUs, and is guaranteed to bring the feel of the Arctic to your living space.”

But I didn’t.

I wrote a no-frills description of the A/C unit and took a quick picture of it with my smart phone. Clickety-click, and it was posted, so I waited and hoped I would maybe get a few people interested in purchasing it.

I got a few early inquiries, but the person who seemed most interested also seemed most interested in seeing just how far she could talk me down in price. I had built a little “wiggle room” into my asking price, but this person wanted more of a rock bottom, going-out-of-business price.

I was feeling dejected at not having sold the air conditioner, since I was doing it for my sister and whatever I got was going to her. Then something happened that I suppose should have turned my frown upside-down.

Two different people “liked” my photo.

Sure, I take some pictures because of my job, but I never refer to myself as a photographer. Professional photographers see things differently and take carefully composed and strategically lit photos. I snapped a picture of an air conditioner sitting on a bathroom floor, and I took it with my phone.

Neither of these people was interested in buying the air conditioner. For some reason, my photo of it made their day and set the standard for all future photos of air conditioners.

I’m now thinking of maybe releasing a calendar with photos of other household appliances to help supplement my income.

Yes, I’m from a generation that was brought up to earn things. The few trophies we may have had in our bedrooms were because, for that day and event, we were among the best.

Personally, I didn’t want to hear my mom or dad congratulate me just for playing.

I prefer to earn my “likes” as well. If my air conditioner photo ends up winning a Pulitzer for its stark and poignant portrayal of a cooling unit that was retired from duty far too early, then go ahead and heap praise on my mad photography skills.

But since it won’t, save your “like” buttons for somebody or something more deserving.