Facebook recently added some new ways to “like” your friends’ posts. Now, instead of a simple like or share on a post, you can also “love” it, you can laugh at it, you can be angry or sad about it, or you can say “wow!”
The problem with all if them, though, is Facebook lets all your friends know if you react to a post, even if it’s a post of someone you don’t know.”So-and-so liked this,” or “So-and-so reacted to this video.” Similarly, you get to see all of your friends’ likes and reactions. In effect, “liking” something on Facebook is pretty close to “sharing” it, in that it goes on all your friends’ news feeds; the only difference is that it doesn’t get put on your permanent timeline.
The result is that your news feed gets filled up with stuff that other people “like” (along with all of the sponsored and “suggested” posts—don’t get me started on those), and you end up missing your friends’ posts, which is what you’re really there for in the first place.
I have fewer than 250 Facebook friends (this being a presidential election year, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number goes down before the year’s over), and I still struggle to get through my news feed most days. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have two or three or four times that many friends. I know people who have more than 1,000 friends there, and I don’t see how they ever keep up. (Personally, I’m not sure I’ve even met 1,000 people in my life.)
So, it’s hard enough to keep up with your friends’ posts, but its doubly hard if you have to wade through all of the “likes.” Particularly when so many of them are snarky political hate-posts, crap that people wouldn’t think of sharing on their own timelines, but it gets plastered all over when people “like” it on someone else’s.
By the way, you may not think you are posting political stuff, but when you “like” a bunch of those memes that make fun of the other candidates, they get sent back out under your name, and your friends will think you’re just a political hack, even though you didn’t originate or “share” the meme.
Sure, Facebook’s goal is to keep you on the site as long as possible; the longer you’re there, the more likely you are to click on one of the ads they so helpfully provide for you. So it’s in Facebook’s interest to clog your newsfeed as much as possible. I’m not optimistic that this will change.
But if it were up to me, Facebook would have a different kind of “like.” One that says, “Hey, kudos on your post; I really like it,” but doesn’t multiply the post to all your friends’ news feeds. They can even make cute little icons to denote things like “That one made me laugh out loud, just not loud enough to share it.” Or, “Way to go, you really nailed the grammar on that post.” Or, “Wow, you convinced me that [Candidate X] is doing the devil’s work!” Or even, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s a cute picture.” It’s all about sending positive feedback to the originator, without spreading the post all over creation.
That way, a “like” is better differentiated from a “share,” and we can all get more work done.