So, Facebook made some changes again. Notice that I purposely didn’t use the word improvements.
Because after all, I can’t decide whether I like, hate, feel wowed by, or love the new buttons. Correction. I don’t love them.
But as the British-born writer, Alan Watts, said,
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
So we must now take a spin with Facebook’s new tune.
First, and I have to say this, Facebook’s new “like” buttons are a far cry from their thumbs-up symbol. Instead, to me they look more like emoticons, don’t you agree?
In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, for quite some time, Facebook users pleaded for an alternative to the website’s ubiquitous like button, which, by the way, was also upgraded. But what people clamored for was a thumbs-down button, not a string of emoticons.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Before 2009, Facebook considered calling its like icon as the awesome button @CaballoFrances” quote=”Before 2009, Facebook considered calling its like icon as the awesome button @CaballoFrances”]
Facebook flipped the switch last Thursday. Predictably, the blogosphere lit up with reactions. Despite the many requests for a symbol to communicate, “No, I don’t like that status update,” Facebook produced a string of six options.
A Closer Look at the “Like” Options
Here’s my take on the new buttons.
This icon has always been a bit odd. I have to admit that I’ve always felt weird about “liking” someone’s news when a friend announced that a pet died or when someone announced that he or she broke a leg. You wouldn’t say, “I like your update!” to a friend who called you on the phone to share the news that they were diagnosed with cancer that day, now would you? Granted, Zuckerberg developed the thumbs up icon back in 2009 before 1.4 billion people were using his social media network and discussing everything from divorce to politics to gluten-free recipes. Accounts indicate that before introducing the famous thumbs-up symbol, Facebook discussed the idea of using a star or a plus sign and referred to the earlier renditions as the awesome sign.
Since then, the thumbs-up symbol has been used to express approval, rejection, sadness, and every other possible human emotion with the exception of … Hmm. I’m not sure if there are any exceptions now that I think about it.
Love Icon Means Like in Some Realms
If you like something on Facebook, you click thumbs up. If you love a status update on Facebook, or I suppose even love a person, a book, a blog post, a review, or a testimonial from a reader, you can now click the heart.
But on other social media networks, namely Instagram and Twitter, you click the red heart when you merely like something, such as a tweet or an image. By the way, in case you hadn’t yet noticed, Twitter made the switch from its favorite symbol, a star, to the like button, the heart, last November.
Are you confused yet?
Google+, perhaps as an expression of its individuality, has its own icon for endorsing an update, the +1 sign. So far they’ve eschewed the thumbs-up symbol and the heart.
So how might you use the love icon on Facebook?
You Touched My Funny Bone
Let’s talk about the HaHa button. I like this one. Once in a while, I see humorous posts on Facebook, such as the Uptown Dog video that I recently posted on my Facebook profile, or a funny image about a typical writer’s life. I’ve never used or wanted to use the acronym LMAO because, well, it seemed so crude. So I think I’ll use this emoticon once in a while whenever something makes me laugh out loud. The abbreviation, LOL, seems a tad antiquated by comparison, don’t you agree?
Have you ever been wowed on Facebook? Or have you ever read a status update or seen an image of an aurora and thought to yourself, “Wow!” I have. But I don’t think I’ll use this emoticon. It looks too much like an expression of fear, not a look of wonder.
I Suddenly Feel So Sad
I probably feel most ambivalent about the sad emoticon. I suppose this is the perfect “like” button when someone makes a sad announcement but I’m more likely not to write anything in the public comment section when I hear bad news, and instead send a friend a private message or an email. Or, if the person is a good friend, I call. So I can’t help but wonder if Facebook’s release of this symbol was purposely scheduled to coincide with the primary elections.
I’m Angry but I’m Okay About It
Is it just me or does this emoticon look like an extremely upset sumo wrestler? Will I use it? Not likely. This is what I do when a post or a comment makes me mad: I ignore it. You see, I endeavor not to be controversial on Facebook.
Mostly, I feel perplexed by the new like options on Facebook. After all, they aren’t really like buttons; they’re emoticons. And if I want to express myself with an emoticon, Facebook already has an array of them available to its users.
Do you think you’ll be using any of these symbols soon?
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About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. She’s written several books including Social Media Just for Writers, Avoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here on her website. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.