The Gesture Web (and i don’t mean Apple’s touchscreen)

Each day i make dozens of small social gestures via technology. Some are explicit — i endorse someone on LinkedIn or confirm a friend on Facebook — but the smaller ones are really where my attention has been these days. The “like” of a friend’s FB post, the RT of someone on Twitter. Each of these is an exchange of social currency where I’m giving some significance to your previous action. 

Maybe it’s my own weird introspection about these gestures but i often feel power dynamics at work. There’s the “please more famous person pay attention to me” LIKE. There’s the “if i RT this, will you RT me” implicit reciprocation gesture. There’s the serial supplicant who tries to earn attention by rebroadcasting/voting up anything you do. But of course, sometime a LIKE is just a LIKE – you like the person, or you find the info interesting. 

What are the implications of these gestures? Over time they tell us something about relationships between people, and between people and topics. They also create incremental emotional connections between people – perhaps even indebtedness in the recipient of the gesture. 

They may also make the giver feel good – like they are doing something helpful with their gesture. Psychologists say the giver actually benefits more than the recipient from gift giving (via NYTimes).

Does anyone else experience emotions when Liking or RT’ing? Or consciously do this to signal or curry favor? What are examples of other gestures – reposting, commenting?