The internet has found an incredibly effective form of digital nicotine: "Likes". It's bottled affirmation for the space age. "Likes" are almost a sort of currency on social media platforms. They validate our wit, work, or writing by essential saying "Go, you!" What's important to note is that these things aren't innately bad, by any means. Showing a form of appreciation for others' hard work isn't incriminating in and of itself, but the spiraling descent into "Like Lust" is anything but.
Measuring your success in "Likes" or "Appreciations" or "Favorites" can be a crippling limitation that may prevent you from releasing work that pushes you to take bigger risks. If you're creating for the Like Machine, you could be trading out real innovation for a formulaic, desired response that's neither beneficial, nor encouraging of your growth as a design professional.
I'm not above this by any means; it's a constant internal dialogue and a necessary gut check. The internet as a social platform has made it easy to gamify design with a universal system that encourages this sort of interaction and, in response, this sort of behavior. Affirmation is a drug that we, as a species, crave. We long for admiration and the Information Age has found a way to give it back. In bulk.
You may begin to predict which pieces will fuel the fire of the Like Machine--even when these solutions are tired or impractical. This line of thinking might keep you safe, but it won't make you bold. For every successful design, there might be dozens by the wayside, but without the failure, there may not have been success in the first place. Going out on a limb and proposing a new solution won't guarantee instant crowd pleasure, but it may provide a more desired result in the long haul. Something that resonates within the design community as a successfully "Liked" project, doesn't guarantee a successful product in the real world.
Remember your sixth grade science class: Correlation doesn't prove causation.
Maybe you've found a new technique and you want to milk every last "Like" out the style, knowing that the high won't last forever.
Maybe you're known for one thing and you're afraid that if you stop, you'll lose your relevance.
Don't get caught up in the fleeting success of "Likes". As an artist, refuse to be satisfied with recycling or regurgitating. Push yourself to build something that may need to marinate longer than the 24 hours after pressing "Upload" on Dribbble.
Good filmmakers might make the same film over and over again; changing names and sets. The best ones were never satisfied with that.
Only you know when you're only fueling the Like Machine.
Give it a break every now and then.