My mouse used to hover and hesitate. How could I "like" a Facebook post that was sad or tragic or pointing out an injustice? I could have commented, but that would take time and make me read comments from people I don't know. Still, "like" didn't capture what I really wanted to say.
I guess Mark Zuckerberg saw my dilemma, because he just added an array of emojis to Facebook. Now I can also say "love" or "haha" or "wow" or "sad" or "angry." Thankfully, "dislike" is not an option yet, and I am glad of that. While we all understood why "like" didn't make sense for many posts, I don't think most of us were looking for a bunch of "dislikes" either. It's bad enough there are trolls and folks who enjoy making rude comments to people they don't know whose opinions differ from theirs. No way do I want them to have the power to "dislike" what I write on Facebook. Maybe the sad emoji face is okay instead. I'm not too sure yet.
The "like" thing is a strange phenomenon. I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the request at the bottom of every post I write that hopes readers will click on the link to "Like me on Facebook?" Is this what I really want? Maybe it would be better if I could say, "Read my stuff on Facebook, but like me in person (if you know me and if you actually like me)." As a blogger, I sometimes I feel like Sally Fields, whose 1980 best actress (Norma Rae) award speech included the infamous line, "You like me, right now, you like me!" What is it about being liked and liking stuff that Mark Zuckerberg seized upon in creating Facebook? Do I really care if someone I don't know likes me or what I wrote? Since I check periodically to see if more folks have given my page the thumbs-up, apparently, I do.
The "like" thing is strange in life as well. How many times did I tell my children growing up, I don't like what you did (or the even more awful, I don't like you right now), but I always love you? What's that supposed to mean to a kid? When you're four, like and love are somewhat synonymous, and adults can't really sugar coat disapproval. Children have special radar detectors for anger in the adults they like/love. How many times did I worry as a preschool director that a parent didn't like me? How often did I fret as a kid that a teacher didn't like me? How worried am I right now that you don't like me?
So yes, we all crave those "likes," both on our Facebook pages and in our lives. If we are honest, we want our friends to "like" our photos of vacations or pets or kids' birthday parties. Lots of "likes" on a picture of our new baby make us smile. It's just human nature, I guess, that as social beings, we care about others' opinions of us and of the things we value. But now, we can wonder if "like" is a lesser response than "love." Or if someone is laughing with us or at us.
So here's the thing about the emojis. Yes, they are cute, but they also enable all of us to avoid having to take the time to say anything personal. If someone does something amazing, I can heart it. If someone dies, I can respond with the sad face. I just gave my friend's post the smiley guy, and someone just gave my post about excessive standardized testing the angry guy. Was she agreeing that testing makes her angry or was she disagreeing with what I wrote? Without a bit of personal engagement in the form of a comment, I'll never know. On the other hand, I can choose to believe the former and do not have to feel badly about a negative comment. I guess I'm ambivalent about the emoji thing, but there is nothing to indicate confusion. I have to write this post instead to explain myself.
So do you like or love this post? Do you feel sad or angry or excited? Do you think I am being funny? Now you can let me know.