People lost their damn minds last fall when Facebook announced it was getting to ready to roll out an alternative to the ubiquitous Like button -- a Dislike button. Then we all let out a collective "Huh?" when it turned out the new feature wasn't actually a button at all, but a series of six emoji-esque "reactions" you can use to respond to other people's posts. In a word, they're weird.
Users in Ireland and Spain, where Facebook's been testing the new feature for months, have had time to acclimate to the new setup, but we're still a little confused. Does this mean the Like button is dead?! Is this just another one of Facebook's epic failures? And most importantly: when the hell are we supposed to use the one for "Wow"?!?
Is it an insult to “Like” and not “Love”?
You have to press and hold the Like button on your phone to get to the Reactions (and hover over on desktop), but what if you don't want to go the extra mile? Is the old fashioned Like still good enough, or will it become passé? Let’s say, hypothetically, that I like someone’s new profile picture. Should I give it a Like? Or, do I need to give it a Love? And if I Like it, will this person think I only half-love it? Am I perpetuating their self-doubt? Have I unintentionally insulted someone by only Liking the news that they’re having a kid? Ugh I’m already stressed out. *Grimace*
What’s the grammatically sensible way to say I “Wowed” something?
When you tell someone you “Liked” a post, that makes sense because "to like" is a verb. But what is the verbal equivalent of “liked” for all the other Reactions? “Did you see my status?” “Yes, I Haha’d it.” “Did you see how many people Angryed that?!" "Man, my photo got 46 Sads." Just no.
Where’s the Information Desk Person?
According to The Verge, Facebook settled on the original six Reactions -- Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry -- by scanning users’ one-word comments and tracking the emotional sentiments of sticker comments (because apparently some people actually use those?). Even before Yay got axed, this felt pretty limiting. What if I’m feeling confused? Or bored? Or sassy? I’ll tell you one thing: I would find far more opportunities to drop in the Information Desk Person than “Wow."
How does this affect my newsfeed? If I "Sad" or "Angry" a lot, will it favor sad and infuriating posts?
Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm is a fickle and ever-changing beast. What shows up in yours at any given moment is the product of some shadowy equation that weighs everything from the posts you’ve recently Liked, to things your friends are into, to trending news stories. So what happens when you start injecting emotional reactions into the mix? Will your proclivity to tag posts with the angry or sad reactions result in "happier" content, or are you setting yourself up for a rabbit hole of sad-sack stories?
Which one will have the NSFW double meaning?
Inevitably, one of the Reactions will get a dirty reputation. After all, this is the Internet, and when given the chance people will find perverse meanings in the most innocuous places (looking at you, eggplant). My money’s on the “Wow” -- I mean, that gaping mouth is just asking to turn into shorthand for any number of NSFW scenarios.
I have a lot of feelings, why can’t I select multiple reactions?
Human emotion is not limited to a mere five feelings, so why can’t we mix and match to create more complex Reactions of our own design? For instance, a “Wow” plus “Angry” could equal disgusted, like yellow and blue makes green. What about the posts that warrant a cackle? I could tick off both “Angry” and “Haha.” Why won’t Facebook let us feel all the feels?
Will anyone bother to comment anymore?
When I feel particularly compelled to acknowledge my sadness, or glee, or anger regarding a particular post (which is rare), I’ll go ahead and type those sentiments in my own words as a comment. That’s a more personal, and I would argue more powerful, way of reacting to something. According to Mark Zuckerberg, these Reactions are intended to make us more empathetic, but tapping a cartoonish angry face to express my disgust over an article about Flint, Michigan’s water crisis is sort of a cop-out, isn’t it?
Will "Haha" and "Sad" be used for negativity and trolling?
It’s nice to encourage people on the Internet to be more empathetic, but the world wide web is an unruly, troll-packed wasteland that can’t have nice things. That's why Facebook never gave us a Dislike button before -- there's a good chance the whole operation will be swiftly co-opted and fall victim to the kind of hatemongering you see on Twitter. Imagine a scenario in which a teenage girl posts a new photo of herself. Maybe it gets a bunch of Hearts and Likes, but pepper in an ironic "Haha" or "Sad" and you’ve just discovered a fresh way to screw with someone's head.
What if Reactions fail? Will Facebook retract them?
Facebook users come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one thing that unites us all: laziness. And thanks to autoplaying videos and instant articles, Facebook is only perpetuating our desire for instant satisfaction. So Facebook's attempt to compel us to go above and beyond and, gasp, think about how we feel, let alone make the extra click to let people know, is pretty damn ambitious. If it turns out Reactions suck, will they admit it and issue a do-over?
If a status gets posted and no one Likes / Loves / Hahas / Wows / Sads / Angrys it... was it even posted at all?
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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist and just fine with the Like button the way it is thank you very much.