I had completely forgotten about the Orwell quote. Really does give food for thought.
I have some reservations about using the 'like' button but more from the perspective of the data I share with facebook. It just feels like another way a network can see what I'm doing and 'tailor' content for me.
I do think the 'Like' button (and yes the 'Awesome' button as well) provide a quick way of showing interest in something, and if I only have a second after reading an article it's easier. Better than nothing I guess?