I think shallow responses are kind of nice—sometimes you don’t have time to reply fully and it can be polite to just 👍. In fact, I sometimes go back to likes and flesh out the reply. So it acts like a bookmark, an ‘ack’ and a reminder to return. That’s not too shallow?
It’s the vanity metric that is the issue. It’s a similar problem with ‘friends’ lists. Usually all we see of someone’s ‘friends’ is a number. Which makes me miss blogrolls, when people took the time to say “Ok so this is Heather, she is an archivist…” and, yeah, that starts to feel like a friend.
Both likes and friend counts are also fed into algorithms and become a basis for popularity (aka ‘value’, according to these networks). But popularity stems from discussion anyway—you don’t need an algorithm, if people are talking and linking, it’ll happen. There’s a larger algorithm at play here that the networks can’t replicate.