Recently, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook will be launching a dislike button sometime in the future. Though the date of arrival is still up in the air, this has come after countless requests from social media participants, and it sounds like a very welcome change. Of course, some wonder if the denizens of Facebook are really ready for this type of feature, and though time may be the only way to tell, here are some theories.
One of the most basic arguments is that it is well past due to make this change. After all, people have been asking for dislike buttons for years now—and over those years, some have fallen prey to internet scams that use the promise of a dislike button to pull people in. Adding this feature would not only appeal to a large number of users, it would also prevent any future scams of this nature, which is always a win.
On the other hand, many suggest that a dislike button could actually lead to some more conflicts. Social media is already a big source of stress and friendship strain today, and having the ability to dislike things could open up more opportunities for argument. Perhaps you don’t feel like commenting on something you dislike, but you do still dislike it. Maybe your friend is in a bad mood and when they see your dislike, they get angry. The problem just escalates from there, especially when we take touchy issues like social justice into consideration. Aren’t those Facebook debates in comment threads uncomfortable enough without a quantifiable representation of both sides?
Of course, some people are suggesting it would work the opposite way. Instead of having people start on long debates, they might simply dislike a topic and move on. There would be no heated argument, and conversations would stay civil instead of degrading into an insult exchange about the state of various mothers, brothers, and significant others. The thought here is that some trolling would be eliminated and maybe people would get along better overall. Friendships could be saved with a simple “dislike,” rather than a comment attacking the other person for believing whatever she or he believes.
Though this sounds good in theory, the reality is that many Facebook users don’t simply “like” a post. Instead, they might like it and then comment about how great it is. If they really like it, they might share it too. Think of this in reverse. Not only is your friend disliking your status, but the very act is a passive aggressive comment which conveys simple dissent at best, and at worst, a personal belief in the level of your stupidity. It may seem silly to some, but many people take social media very seriously, and this sort of dynamic could further damage the already strenuous relationships that Facebook reinforces. And what about cyber bullying? Will it be damaging to see a visual representation of everyone who disagrees with you? It’s too early to say either way, but it may be something to keep in mind.
Whether or not the internet as a whole will be able to handle this new development in the social media scene, the most important question for you might be whether or not you are ready yourself. Have you been one of those eager fans waiting to get that dislike button? Do you feel it will help enhance your user experience, or do you see the potential for additional conflict and problems?