Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reaction Reaction

OMG. O. M. G. 

Big news last week. Facebook launched "reactions," emoji-esque stickers that allow you to be more specific responding to a post than the traditional thumbs-up "Like" button. 


There are six (count 'em, six) different reactions to choose from. "Like" is still an option, and it serves as the mouse-over gateway to the other five. Now, it's joined by:

"Love" — Like "Like," but more likable; symbolized by a heart
"Haha" — Made you laugh; symbolized by a laughing emoji
"Wow" — What a surprise!; an astounded emoji
"Sad" — Opposite of happy; a sad-face emoji
"Angry" — This pisses you off; a red-faced, squinting mad guy emoji whom you basically wouldn't want to meet in a back alley 'cause he's like really pissed

This solves an age-old problem. Well, not age-old, of course; not even decades-old, really. This solves the minutes-old problem of how to react when you really want to react but when reacting with a "Like" is not an appropriate reaction.

"After all these years, our darling 24-year old Timbuktu Terrier "Teeny Tiny Tarantina" finally has arthritis, but we're going to keep her as comfortable as possible."

Are you actually happy that their ancient dog is arthritic? Of course not. But, do you want to acknowledge that you saw the post and that you applaud their loving care? Sure. What to do? That thumbs-up icon is woefully inadequate.

Enter the new reaction stickers! In the very nick of time.

My husband was the one who alerted me to this exciting new development at The Facebook. (This in and of itself is deserving of the "Haha" reaction sticker. My husband refuses to partake in social media; our teenage daughter and I often refer to him as "the last man standing.") 

After seeing it on the morning news (yes, he still watches the news), he asked, with melodramatic sarcasm, how I felt about it all. 

I had two reactions ...

First, as a professional direct marketer, I immediately thought about Facebook's potentially insidious objectives. As with any- and everything we mere mortals do on the site, our new reactions will be tracked and analyzed. They will become part of our digital equivalent of the dreaded "permanent record." Just think how much bigger big data is going to be when each and every one of Facebook's 872 bazillion users starts reacting. Sheesh!

Second, as a former English major and current concerned parent, I just as immediately thought about how each of these so-called advances adds to the ever-increasing illiteracy of our children. "Read (or more likely, see or hear) something that you would like to comment on? Don't bother with words, just use one of these handy reaction stickers!" 

I feel the same way about the new feature on our iPhones that anticipates the word you may want as soon as you start to type. It's distracting, often wrong and encourages us to be lazy. Apparently, I'm in the minority though.

A few years ago, I thought the saving grace of the Internet was that it forced people to write (albeit with fairly little to no concern for spelling, grammar or punctuation). So much for that.

Not sure whether this all makes me "Sad" or "Angry." But, I don't feel "Wow" about it anymore, and I certainly won't be "Haha"-ing.

If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.    

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