Facebook monumentally changed human interaction, whether you “Like” it or not. Instead of giving someone a hug in real life, more often we like one of their digital photos. The result? Our relationship with the screen can be stronger than it is with real people.
To address this shift, Dutch artist Dadara plans to erect a large installation at the Burning Man festival aimed at getting viewers to question how social media affects our human bonds. The Indiegogo-funded sculpture will consist of a giant golden thumbs-up symbol on a black altar. The thumbs-up will be painted gold to symbolize the fact that likes have become like gold. The steps are meant to facilitate real social interaction where people can sit, chill and mingle, says Dadara.
“We must never forget that the real reward of liking lies amongst ourselves and inside our communities,” Dadara notes on his website. To try to move human relations away from the digital world, the Like4Real statue will be erected in the middle of the desert where people have to connect in real life — the barren plain, which lacks cellular service, is one of the few places on earth that has not been touched by the web. Burning Man is an annual, week-long festival, being held for the 24th time at Black Rock Desert this August, where tens of thousands of people gather and dedicate themselves to radical self-expression and self-reliance.
According to Dadara, the entire installation is meant for people to gather as a community and be active participants in rituals that center around the ‘Like.’ Before the burning, Dadara plans to perform rituals around the installation where people meditate and form a circle with their thumbs touching. Once the statue is burned, he hopes that burners, as festival goers are called, will realize how social media is affecting them and understand the importance of true connectedness with others; in other words, whe wants them to reach what he calls enlikement. The burning of the statue is not meant to be negative, he says, but instead indicates the needed shift to bring human relations back from the virtual world to natural reality. Dadara and his group hope that Like4Real will become an ongoing project in the real world.