News is spreading like wildfire that Facebook will finally be offering a “dislike” button, and I’ve got to admit: I think it kind of sucks.
As someone who has really opened my work and my life up to public support, judgment, and criticism through blogging and all of the social media that goes along with it (and trust me, social media is a requirement for bloggers and business owners in this day-and-age), the possibility of an easy swipe on a very big social media platform has me left feeling uneasy.
The beauty of Facebook all along as a social medium, has been the inability to hide anonymously (at least for the most part); so for instancee, if someone felt the need to tell me I was a bad mom, or looked fat, or misspelled a word on a Facebook post (all of which I have heard more than once, on Facebook, my blog, and other social media platforms), at least on Facebook, they posted the not-so-nice comment beside a name that linked to a profile page. Not that that is the world’s biggest deterrent from being just plain mean, but the accountability certainly helps. And I’ve always held my head up, blocked the commenter, and tried (sometimes in vain) to move on with my life – save a bit of “woe, is me” whining to my unshakeable husband as I sometimes tearfully recounted the comments someone left on an Instagram post earlier that day. Thankfully, he reminds me, and I’m smart enough to know that I’m a good mom, I like carbs, and for the most part, I can still kick some serious spelling bee butt. But the hate does hurt.
I should note here that I try hard not to whine on this little blog of mine. I’m so incredibly proud of this site, the opportunities it has afforded me, and the friends I have made through blogging. But I’m addressing this now, because as a business-owner and as someone who will most likely be affected by this change (even if in the most infinitesimal way; a.k.a., a literal thumbs down), I think we should all strive to be kinder.
WHY FACEBOOK THINKS THE DISLIKE BUTTON IS A GOOD IDEA:
“We have an idea that we’re going to be ready to test soon, and depending on how that does, we’ll roll out it more broadly,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a townhall Q&A on Tuesday.
He said making something so “simple” is surprisingly complicated, but after years of people demanding the option to “dislike” a Facebook post, the company is finally ready to roll out the “dislike” option.
According to Zuckerberg, the company had hesitated to launch a dislike button, but it realized that people want to “express empathy” on posts about unpleasant news. “Not every moment is a good moment,” he said.
By the way, this is a real about-face from the response Zuckerberg gave at a similar event only nine months ago when he described the “dislike” feature as having no social value. “Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say ‘that thing isn’t good,’ and we’re not going to do that… I don’t think that’s socially very valuable, or great for the community.”
Even if Zuckerberg’s change of heart came on the heels of a need for “empathy,” perhaps this is a stretch, but can’t people post actual words expressing empathy? Words like, “I’m sorry” and “I’m thinking about you” go a long way.
The fact that a business as gargantuan as Facebook is spending, I imagine, a whole heap of money, to create the surprisingly complicated technology behind a “dislike” button, leaves me to shake my head some more. Facebook is employing major resources, to add an option to publicly let its 1.49 billion monthly active users say, “I don’t like that.” (Will the “dislike” button be more akin to a downvote on Reddit, affecting a post’s popularity or is it simply to disapprove? I suppose some of this will make more sense in time.)
A “dislike” option opens the platform up for just that: a whole lot of dislike. I cringe when I see people being negative publicly on social media. I’ve actually avoided the social media platform at the crux of elections and during heated world debates. It’s not that I’m not interested in reading and following up with the news, it’s that I don’t want to read people attacking one another. Maybe I’m naive, but I prefer my morning cup of coffee with videos of good samaritans saving baby ducks and news of friends having beautiful babies. (For the record: I don’t think I’m alone here; I shared a syrupy-sweet baby-duck-saving video to my Facebook page just this past week and the post reached more than 5,400 people, with scads of engagement. Happiness rocks, you guys.) Bottom line: I unplug during conflict. Maybe that’s weird, but I sort of see it as my cue.
How does a “dislike” option affect the younger generations? I don’t want my little girl posting things she’s proud of to Facebook someday, only to get disliked. (Wow, I suddenly sound like such a mom. Apparently having a baby will do that to you.) What if a teenager comes out on Facebook and gets “disliked” even once or twice amidst hundreds of “likes”? I realize I’m taking it to its extremes, and I recognize that Zuckerberg’s hope is to offer users a chance to show empathy, but there’s no controlling the manner in which users will utilize a “dislike” button, at least not that I can imagine. (Maybe Zuckerberg has a master plan? There’s also some talk that the button will in fact express sympathy and various other feelings, etc., rather than “dislike”, but that certainly seems awfully tailored. Here’s to hoping.)
What are the ramifications here? It just seems like an unnecessary evil to me, like we’re opening the floodgates to more negativity. Maybe we shouldn’t focus so heavily on the one little thumbs down – but take it from me (a blogger) – that rejection stings, and it has a ripple effect.
K, stepping off my soapbox now. Be nice to each other. Support one another. Keep your dislike to yourself, and watch baby duck videos.
Pssst … You can read more of my Business of Blogging posts, right here.