Everyone who has used Facebook in the last few months would know of the superb, calculated introduction of the ‘reactions’. I am writing this post in the light of ‘reactions’ being available for Messenger messages too, as I discovered only yesterday (probably much, much later after it was originally introduced. But still. I jumped ‘into’ the bandwagon.)
So not harping on about how Facebook now has a feature similar to the ‘reply’ feature of WhatsApp, but only a toned down version to ‘make a difference’., I am going to talk about the uncomplicated days back when ‘like’ was the only reaction we could give to a picture or a post or a video no matter how good it was. The only other option we had was to not react and move on. (Of course there was the option for commenting, but this post is dedicated to the reactions only)
The only kind of fights that could come back then, as I have heard, was why someone had ‘liked’ a sad status. The person in question is faced with a conundrum. Do they ‘like’ to show their support or do they ‘like’ that the original poster was sad? The questions and the assumptions were never ending and were mostly the reasons behind some major fights erupting.
The Facebook decided to introduce the other ‘reactions’, and the world, as they say, was never the same again. The increased choices were confusing. Should I react with ‘love’ or ‘wow’ for that? Does the video of the dog being tormented make me ‘sad’ or ‘angry’? Does the ‘love’ reaction send more relief material to Africa instead of ‘like’ reaction? Does one ‘wow’ reaction equal 10 ‘like reactions? The options were endless.
Then there was the ultimate fight material. The capital crime of reacting ‘Haha’ to a cute selfie. What is so funny about the face, mister? The conspiracy theories of Facebook using the reactions to gather data about its users’ preferences, it cannot be denied that the reactions have made the whole app a… err… more colorful place!
The five added reactions have given five more reasons to talk about, a permutation of more decisions to make, and definitely confusing perspectives. I have used all of these reactions at least once, and my most favorite of them remains the ‘love’ reaction, given especially to pictures and posts that make my heart sing. With the addition of these, though, I have been at the receiving end of the weird question – ‘why did you just ‘like’ my picture?’
I realized how confusing this must have been only when I was wondering why someone else had done that to my picture. We have all gotten so used to people responding with the other, better reactions, that a ‘like’ has suddenly become inadequate. What was once the only option, has now become the insufficient option. Merely ‘liking’ a friend’s pictures or posts has created many unintentional fights.
The other reactions have spoken of a sense of involvement, often speaking of a much stronger bond than the normal ‘like’. With the other options available, the number of questions has only increased. The increase in the number of choices has also increased the number of split second decisions that have to be made. As is usual, the abundance of choices has also posed greater, more complicated problems in the digital media world, where a lot depends on how strong the bonds are, over the internet.
‘Why did you just ‘like’ my picture?’ is the new version of, ‘why did you just reply with a smiley?’ The flimsier the bond, the funnier this gets. The best response to the above question would be to laugh and move on. Data mining or not, Facebook has successfully managed to induce more drama and manipulation in ‘friendships’, in a way.
P.S.: Does anyone else remember the purple ‘thankful’ flower? I was rather attached to that one. Sigh.