How Many Ways Can We Dislike This?

dislikeMaybe what Zuck and his team should really create is a “let’s talk about this” button.

It’s finally happened. After years of user requests, Facebook is poised to release something akin to a “Dislike” button. We’ve all joked about searching for the Dislike button on a particularly awful post or comment, but in reality it’s a terrible idea to turn Facebook into an upvote/downvote forum. And apparently FB’s founder Mark Zuckerberg agrees.

“People have asked about the Dislike button for many years,” said Zuckerberg in a filmed Q&A at FB’s yesterday.

“It took us a while to get here,” Zuckerberg explains, “because we didn’t just want to build a dislike button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s post. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create.”

“What they really want it to be able to express empathy,” he said, noting that “not every moment is a good moment.”

Calling it “surprisingly complicated to build” he said the feature would allow users to express a wider range of emotions than simply “like” or “dislike.” That’s somewhat encouraging and might give us a slight reprise from the bread and circus mentality out there in social land.

Still, there’s a growing movement on social networks to stop “liking” things on Facebook altogether. People who’ve done so say their newsfeed is more enjoyable, sane and humane, and they’ve noticed an improvement in the way they communicate with their friends online.

One woman on our team here decided to try this about a month ago. Now rather than simply jumping to agreement, she spends more time thinking over a written response. She’s been having real discussions on Facebook, genuine conversations rather than knee jerk reactions. She says she’s done with the “like” button for good, and plans to ignore the new “empathy” features as they roll out.

In a world in which we are expected to take sides, choose a position, support “our side” 100%, the return of civilized, informed discussion is sorely needed. Maybe what Zuck and his team should really create is a “let’s talk about this” button. That might go a long way toward rehumanizing our online experience.