Those who got there first: Familiarity, favourites and social media

Arwa Mahdawi
Ogilvy London

"I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first." Peter Ustinov.

True? If so, might this observation also apply to your favourite countries, music, reading and food, for example?

You like this essay.

Well, maybe you don't. Chances are, though, if I posted a link to it on Facebook, a good number of my friends would 'like' it…although they probably wouldn't bother reading it. And if I tweeted a link to it, a few of my followers might even 'Favorite' the tweet.

'Liking', 'friends', 'favourites': these are all concepts whose meanings have fundamentally altered since a certain spotty undergrad came up with a certain social network. Our personal preferences have shifted from being latent states of mind to being quite deliberate assertions. Actions we perform with a click of a mouse and broadcast to all who choose to listen. In a world where the average 22-year-old has over 1,000 Facebook friends, we no longer like in relative isolation: we Like en masse. Which has some interesting implications for Peter Ustinov's thesis that friends are less the people we "like best" and more the people "who got there first."