by Geoff Gillette
For even the most casual Facebook user this scenario has happened at least once. One of your friends has posted something negative or upsetting. Loss of a pet, a personal struggle etc. You want to support your friend, but clicking on the “Like” button feels wrong somehow, like you’re saying you’re glad that Fido is gone. So what do you do?
Facebook says they may have an answer to that conundrum, but it's not what users have been asking for.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the gray areas of the “Like” button and what they may do about it during a December 12, 2014 Q&A session at the company’s headquarters. The answer coming out of Facebook is to look at the possibility of broadening the “Like” button to allow for gradations of human emotion.
Zuckerberg said they are looking at giving users a broader palate for how they respond to what someone posts, whether it be surprised or sad or just supportive. How that will all spin out is yet to be seen, although with the proliferation of emoticons in the world they should have no shortage of things to choose from.
One thing Zuckerberg says you won’t see? A “Dislike” button. Users have been asking about having a way to express disapproval or dislike nearly since the “Like” button came about. But Zuckerberg said that having an arbitrary up/down for posts was not what he envisioned for Facebook and he felt it was not good for the community.
“What I think is valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express rather than just positivity,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook officials in the past have shied away from the idea of a “Dislike” button, because of the potential for bullying and shaming that could be associated with it.
While it is certainly a step in the right direction for Facebook to broaden their approach to how people can respond to posts, do we really need it? If the argument for not having a “Dislike” is that it would be better for people to comment instead, wouldn’t that same argument hold true for this?
If there were a “Hug” button to click on when someone posts something sad or challenging, would the person receiving it really get as much out of an emoticon as they would from a short message of support? Or would that continue to widen the gap that is slowly forming between us as humans? Do we really want to promote such a reductive form of communication? Where will it lead? Will people eventually just post a Sad Face or a Smiley Face and people will respond with a Thumbs Up or a Hug?
We as a society are always looking for the shortcuts, the fastest way to achieve a desired result. But is that what we should aspire to in communicating and connecting with each other? Reducing our own complex thoughts, emotions and passions into brightly colored emoticons or <shudder> memes?
Seems like the reverse of evolution to me. I’ll be hitting the “Dislike” button now.
Do you want more emoticons on Facebook? Do you think they should add a “Dislike” button? Let us know in the comments section.
IMAGE CREDIT: THOTH GOD OF KNOWLEDGE