Negativity and Facebook

Last week, I examined the issue of why politics makes us more social. Some of the responses in the comments section lead me to conclude that we – as social creatures – are more inclined to moan rather than to praise. A characteristic that is exacerbated when we discuss politics (and politicians).

Yet Facebook seems unwilling to indulge this negative inclination preferring instead to encourage ‘positive’ responses.

First there was:

Which only applied to groups and non-profile pages. Then came:

This was a one-way transaction. If you saw something and ‘liked’ it, you were stuck with that choice forever.

Then in early 2009 came the ‘UNLIKE’ option which allowed our fickle selves to back out of our one-time diehard commitment to marmite and Girls Aloud. But on Fan Pages, Facebook make this option infuriatingly hard to find. The app equivalent of a good Simon Pegg movie.

Furthermore, UNLIKE-ing something  merely returns you to the seas of ineffectual neutrality – a space that should only be occupied by the Swiss – rather than allowing you to register outright disdain.

Surely then, the final step is the ‘DISLIKE’ button.

Commendably, Facebook programmers seem reluctant to develop an application for this, leaving it up to third-party providers to service the haters. Whilst I do *dislike* a lot of things I see on Facebook, I am glad that the social network’s ethos seems more inclined to celebrate rather than to denigrate – a phenomenon that will become more ubiquitous as Facebook continues to roll out thousands of cross-platform ‘LIKE’ plugins.



About jonathanrose

Raconteur. Intellectual. Showerman.
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6 Responses to Negativity and Facebook

  1. James says:

    I would actually really like Facebook to have a dislike button, maybe just for status updates though.

    I think it would be fun – but also, could be put to good use, especially for companys who like to ask questions of their fans, “Do you like this idea?”. It’s always good to get quick feedback from customers.

    Plus when J-Ro says something stupid I can show my disgust.

    • jonathanrose says:

      James – I think your idea about a *dislike* button for marketing purposes is brilliant, however don’t you think it might be limited if a client just ‘clicks’ *dislike* but leaves no comment or in-depth feedback.

      I suspect it would give rise to the problems of polls. They show a response but not a reason.

      Good luck catching me ever saying something stupid 😉

      • James says:

        Yes, but for quickfire questions that only need a yes or no its perfect. More and more companies are doing that, especially on twitter, its very helpful. For instance, recently on @Logos4Polos – we were stuck in the office about whether to send out chap sticks or candy as a free gift to our customers, but we asked for feedback on twitter and it was a resounding: CANDY! Anyway – things like that, this unlike button could be very useful for.

        I also just think it could bring a lot more humour to personal status updates…like, I think it would be really funny.

  2. Tom Richards says:

    It is interesting the way ‘becoming a fan’ of something collapsed into the more simple act of ‘liking’. I guess this makes logical sense as a way of getting information pumping around. I, for instance, can now happily say that I like bourbon biscuits, and express this interest without seeing like a deranged biscuit superfan on Facebook. I imagine that since Facebook pages became ‘likeable’, many more people have their profiles linked to all kinds of obscure things. Not only do Facebook get to sell all this information for various ignoble purposes, the creators of Facebook pages can more easily communicate information to a wider group of people than simply those who would view themselves as ‘fans.’

    I like ‘liking’ because it always seems so positive. The ‘dislike’ button that so many of those slighty dodgy Facebook pages promise if you ‘like’ them, I am less keen on. I’m someone who isn’t a huge fan of expressing too much dislike of something that isn’t abhorrently evil. I don’t normally (although I am sure there are some incidents where I have done this) like the tendency we have as humans to unite in expressing mutual dislike. It’s kind of like schoolground bullying – finding common ground at the expense of a scapegoatish figure.

    I guess there is space for a ‘dislike’ button which we can politely use for statuses like ‘AARGH… my face is on fire!’That said, the slightly twisted part of me, finds it perennially funny that we always only have the tantalising option to ‘like’ every Facebook status. Even ones describing such pain, hardship and embarrassment as flaming faces.

    • Tom Richards says:

      Ooh… and another thought.

      Really the ‘like’ button is a clever way of putting a simple and positive spin over what in reality says ‘I would like to subscribe to all future comments on this post/page.’ What would an ‘unlike’ button do? If you are really against something , presumably you wouldn’t want to be subscribed to all future comments about it. But at the same time people would use ‘unlike’ as a way of publically expressing dislike and want to know how people respond in the future.

  3. Joeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee says:

    Mark Zuckerberg and the other powers-that-be of Facebook must have been aware for a while now of the public’s demand for a ‘dislike’ button… yet we are still without one. This says to me that they probably have some reason for which they choose not to include a ‘dislike’ option.

    As you say, maybe they want to enforce celebration more by reducing negativity. There’s enough hate on Facebook as it is, with teenage girls using Facebook statuses to publicly bitch about other teenage girls who were their best friends until they stole their boyfriends, and then the latter girls bitching back in the comments of those statuses, all parties using swear words as punctation at all times.

    Here’s to hoping that comments in this blog aren’t used in the same way…

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