The Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” wasn’t exaggerating (okay, a little bit) when they portrayed how social media can affect our daily lives. Here, people have an app to rate their everyday interactions. The Verge described it as a satirical take on customer service ratings, but it can also be a narrative of how people obsess over the number of likes and how they’re presented online.
Last night, Twitter responded to a Telegraph report that quoted founderJack Dorsey saying they’re in talks to remove the feature. “As we’ve been saying for a while, we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivizing healthy conversation, that includes the like button,” Twitter Comms said in a tweet. “We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now.”
As we've been saying for a while, we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivizing healthy conversation, that includes the like button. We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now. https://t.co/k5uPe5j4CW
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) October 29, 2018
A lot of people are already disapproving the move, saying that a Like button is a form of “discussion” in itself because it allows users to show their support without having to reply or retweet. One netizen expressed that forcing people to reply to someone may just add more harm than good.
This change would only serve to make "debate," or whatever you want to call it, WAY WORSE–it'll create a perceived necessity to reply more often, which will heighten the amount of abuse.
— 🍂fall🍂of🍂capitalism🍂 (@BenFerber) October 29, 2018
On the other hand, there are those who use the Like button to archive tweets you want to go back to. Certain businesses with active online presence also benefit from this feature because it increases engagement.
But, as YouTuber Philip DeFranco mentioned, the removal of the Like button can also help in curbing the numbers game that netizens rely on for all their posts. He asked viewers in his latest video, “That leads us to the thought of “why do we even share anything?” Is it and should it be about the actual interaction with human beings? Or has it simply evolved on this numbers system where, based on these numbers, that’s where people find their self-worth?”
If you think about it, he has a point considering that social media—likes, comments, and everything in between—gives people a dopamine high. “Dopamine inspires us to take actions to meet our needs and desires—anything from turning up the heating to satisfying a craving to spin a roulette wheel—by anticipating how we will feel after they’re met,” The Guardian explained.
Phil also touched on how people have the tendency to judge and mock others less to zero likes on their posts, causing them to feel insecure and jealous of the users they follow. Psychologist Emma Kenny told Cosmopolitan UK that social media and obsessing over likes may create unachievable expectations on perfection. Likewise, a study reported that social media can increase the risk of loneliness among users, especially those who feel like they’re not getting as much likes as they want.
Twitter, like every other platform, contains witty and relatable jokes, as well as photos. We always see tweets that have thousands of retweets and likes, and will trend for days—hence, spam-like accounts that collate (ahem, copy) popular tweets and using them for their own traction. And we can’t believe we’re saying this but Kanye West was right when he said that having “[Twitter likes] on display for the world to see and judge is like showing how much money you have in the bank.” It’s like a boasting contest for many people, but another’s self-esteem may go down in the process.
If Twitter does decide to remove the Like feature, there will be pros and cons. But getting rid of one reason to make netizens doubt themselves is a plus. What do you think? Should Twitter continue with this plan or should they just add the Edit button that everyone has been asking for?
Art by Marian Hukom
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