Today was my first day of actually seeing the heart. I had read it was happening. That the excellent, versatile, and contextually sensitive favorite star was being replaced by the low brow, easy entry, noob friendly, lowest common denominator, facebook migratory sign, the like with heart button. I do not like it. It isn’t that I am resistant to change, far from it in fact. However, I am resistant to devolution!
The favorite star was great for several reasons. For starters, both word and symbol don’t have an overwhelmingly positive context. Both were content neutral and could be used for liking a hilariously happy tweet one moment and terrible news about a national tragedy next. It wasn’t based on positivity which the word “like” and the heart symbol are. When tweepers and readers get down to the knitty gritty, they won’t be able to hit that like button on the latest dour news. Well they can, it will just look weird that news of the latest mass shooting has hearts underneath it.
Other social media sites can get away with the like. Who isn’t going to like a photo on the all you can eat buffet of optimism over on instagram? The whole site is photos, what isn’t to like? Over on Facebook, the like button has been in use the whole time, and yet it is somewhat limiting. People can like the happy stuff, but when it comes to terrible news things get awkward. So much so that Facebook has been talking about adding a dislike button.
It is worth to mention to Facebook that the favorite star is up for grabs. People are smart enough to figure it out and it adds so much versatility to the culture. It isn’t just hearts, love, and optimism. It’s excelling, important, and worthy of noting. Don’t be the pandering shareholder types over at Twitter who believe that one little icon is going to bring the facebookers over in droves. It could quite possibly have the opposite effect. I hear Google+ has a context neutral +1 button.