The Last Like is the result of a rather short note inquiry by Stadtgalerie Kiel. After I hesitated to show my classic piece Map and This Is Fine was ‚too political‘ for the show I proposed this: „Let’s do a (‚unpolitical‘) heart emoji!“. The working title was „Triangle of sadness“ as a reference to the movie and social media. But this reference became too much of a distraction so I changed it later to the current title.
After the piece was produced and setup in public it became clear a heart emoji in this size attracts quite some attention. A lot of by-passer stop, take pictures and pose in front of it. In the weekends there was a cue I was told. It works almost like a photo trap. Photos which are posted online again asking for likes. More hearts. The carpenter who build the work interpreted it as an overused symbol, becoming obsolete. The heart used to be a symbol for love but since Instagram made it the like button it started to make us sad and lonely. Social media in general makes us very unhappy.
A week after the opening I stumbled over this excellent article by Cory Doctorrow: „Social Quitting“. Doctorrow explains very well the life cycles of social media platforms: How they first make the users dependent, then get the ad buying companies hooked until nobody gets off anymore. From that moment they can do what they want, make it really worse for everyone but we still don’t leave. He calls it the enshittification.
Twitter is on fire since Elon Musk bought it. Instagram feels dead and became the new LinkedIn while Tiktok is already adding panic features. At the same time there is a huge attention shift towards the new AI platforms which will have a massive impact for all of us.
The Last Like is a marker like Map but representing the end of an era – the end of social media.