Over the past year, Facebook users have been lobbying for a “Dislike” button to express their feelings about unwanted or distasteful posts. Well, the message got through to Facebook, but it did not have the outcome the users wanted. Instead of a “Dislike” button—which was all that was asked for—five other buttons now accompany the lonely “Like” button: “love,” “wow,” “haha,” “angry,” and “crying.” While the “angry” emoji button is close in meaning to the desired “Dislike” button, it does not quite hit the mark.
These new and “improved” ways to respond to posts are not only unnecessary but also unwanted. When the notice came through that Facebook was adding the reactions, Dislike This News asked, “Where is the Dislike button?” Many users feel the same way. An “Official ‘Dislike Button’ Request” page was put up on the site and has over 9,000 followers. As an alternative solution, people are simply putting an upside-down picture of Facebook’s “Like” button in the comments as a way to dislike a post. These emoji buttons are completely redundant to the emojis users can already put in their comments to posts. When people respond to posts, it is more useful to place the desired emoji next to the phrase or comment it goes with rather than creating a generalized “reaction” to the post that has no explanation or meaning to the poster. The users were lobbying for a simple way to dislike a post, not a tab full of “reactions.” Facebook has gone a bit too far with this “improvement” and did not listen to what the users actually wanted; rather, it decided it would take the users’ ideas and perform a nosedive in the form of useless and annoying emojis.
In addition, the comments section is getting closer and closer to negligibility with these new emoji reactions to posts. Now, rather than posting a full comment and allowing for lively discussion about a post, users are simply hitting whatever “reaction” they want and moving on to the next one. It may be that soon, people will stop writing about the posts at all and just click the appropriate reaction emoji. This discourages not only intelligent conversation and debate but also relationship building based on likes and dislikes. The truth is that emojis have been done to death. Users can put them in their text messages on their phones, their Messenger app on Facebook, and the comments section on Facebook, and now they do not even have to use words anymore to express what they feel about a post! Emojis are everywhere, and they are slowly but surely eroding our ability to communicate with words—with legitimate, clear ideas and opinions. It is one thing to add an emoji to emphasize the tone of the words in the comment or message; it is quite another to use emojis as the sole means of expression.
This update, overall, is not a sign of progress on Facebook’s part. In fact, it is a step backward from the advancement of improved ways of sharing ideas with each other. Truly, social media is a way for people to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships and network with possible employers or clients. Adding these emoji buttons does not improve or encourage effective communication among users. Instead, it allows people to rush through posts and give their superficial reactions to them without giving the people who took the time to write, sing, paint, or Photoshop the benefit of a few thoughtful comments. Progress is finding a more effective means of communication. Emojis are not progress; they are a devolution of communication.