Tim Tebow sent the market into a nosedive this morning after he revealed his proposal for revamping the values of social-media interactions. The minor-league baseball player proposed changing the "like" button to a "respect" button, but the prices he estimates for each would have major ramifications on the clout economy.
This was not just a dashed-off tweet. Tebow had written a post on his personal site weighing the worth of likes vs. respect, at one point getting ahead of himself and even bringing "thumbs up" and "hearts" into the equation:
Imagine if we lived in a time where we didn’t have “Like” buttons, but instead, we had “Respect” buttons. Would you rather have 110 Likes or 34 Respects? Do you hand out respect the same way you hand out Thumbs Up or Hearts?
Like most people, I was at a place in my life where I wanted to get likes, but I knew that the likes were fleeting. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn as I am naturally a people pleaser. The likes would come after a big win or a talk where I said something that people wanted to hear. Soon I realized I don't want to be someone that gets “likes.” Instead of “likes”, I would rather get respect.
Tebow's idea is unconventional, to put it kindly. For years, social media has operated on the "1 like = 1 respect" standard. Economies across the world have agreed on its stability. By our calculations, Tebow's proposed exchange rate would mean that 3.24 likes were equal to 1 respect. This drastic shift would put many small-business influencers out of work, and it could lead to a disastrous clout deficit over the next 10 years.
Likes have been the backbone of the clout economy for generations, and a pie-in-the-sky idea like Tebow's would have secondary effects. What would happen to the retweet and regram futures? What about the "Hit the subscribe button below" markets? Have we all forgotten the lessons of the post-Favstar collapse?
Tebow's own tweet, in which he asks whether it's better to be liked or respected, would be worth roughly a third of what it is now if we were to implement this system. He would be wise to carefully consider all the consequences that would result from this plan. Like and share if you agree.