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Love in the time of SHiYA

silhouette of a cat against an ocean sunset with the overwritten title: "things I don't do:" and checkmarks next to "Share" and "agree"SHARE IF YOU AGREE!

You’ve seen them; At least one friend that loves to post them: Overwrought, emotional value statements, probably written in Papyrus and overlaid on a pic of a cat thoughtfully gazing at a Malibu sunset. Facebook is full of them. Pinterest is packed with them. The aughts was the decade of the motivational poster. The teens is the time of the SHiYA (SHare if You Agree) poster.

Some common elements of the SHiYA:

  1. Background is usually a photo or artwork, but occasionally a solid color or blank
  2. Words are commonly written over artwork but above/under photos (like a title/caption)
  3. Content conveys some emotional state, personality trait, political leaning, or common experience
  4. A call-to-action, implied or explicit, to comment, upvote, and/or share the post

The SHiYA serves many ego-validating purposes. Some are:

  1. political beliefs
  2. moral value
  3. current feeling/emotion
  4. world view

SHiYA is a new passive-aggressive weapon in a post-political world. In a timeline where a clear political discussion wouldn’t fly, the SHiYA flags down fellow believers. In a world where straight emotional statements are suppressed, the SHiYA slyly expresses our joys and despairs. It’s sibling, the LiYA – Like if You Agree, is a scammer’s heaven. Post a puppy pic, amass likes, sell the file & all the “like” data to the highest bidder. It’s called “like farming“. (You can pronounce it like “Liar” – because that it what the scam amounts to.)

What are these posts doing for us and are they effective?

We are what we share

We share these blanket value statements in hopes to strengthen our bond with compadres, but we assume everyone who sees our (default: public) posts are in our camp. As social stream use becomes the norm, we run the risk of getting on the last nerve of our bosses, colleagues, neighbors and friends. Our belief system may be a rich source of pride and identity; we make take some pleasure in miffing those of opposite views. Over time, though, discourse gets shut down and friendly connections fade.

We should take the extra time to selectively share our SHiYAs with a group or a custom list. We could hunt out a like-minded forum. We could send it in a personal message to a friend instead of plastering our public feeds. If you want to truly connect with other people, do it in a more direct way by posting to a smaller venue or take the time to write a comment or a message. A micro connection will always trump a macro distribution.

‘Fess up

Do you share value statement/identity validation media? Why? If not – on a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high) – how would you rate your annoyance levels when you see these ShiYAs and LiYAs in your stream?


“Sunset Cat” by Kate on Flickr, edited by me, Christine Cavalier

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Scott Nelson 8 September 2014, 11:09 am

    I definitely agree. So much so that I would share this, if it wouldn’t contribute to the problem