Not Enough Buttons

imageFacebook has gone to a lot of trouble to add “Like” as part of their brand. Apparently, they are still fighting about it in court. I guess they don’t own the word, just the button but even there, I think they messed up. They didn’t need a button; they needed a bunch of buttons. You simply can’t “Like” everything.

Given the stuff people put on Facebook, pressing “Like” is often a problem. Some of the things my friends have posted recently include:

“My son has the flu”
“My wife’s father passed away”
“I cut my hand (complete with pictures)”
“I dropped a nearly full bottle of beer”

I can’t “Like” any of those.

So, I find myself starting comments with phrases like: “I couldn’t bring myself to like this, but I’m glad you posted…

You would think that Facebook and others could offer a wider range of buttons. Some that I would like to see include:

Thanks for researching this – I would click on that when I read each installment of a blog friend’s blog about the shooting death of a policeman in Los Angeles back in the 1920’s. I find it weird clicking the like button for those posts. These posts aren’t on Facebook, but I’m not sure how the “Like button” works, it may go back to them. I like his writing style, I like his research skills and I like his attention to detail. I don’t like the idea of policemen getting shot. Hopefully Facebook or whoever is counting the likes gets that right.

Glad you survived / aren’t hurt worse / didn’t lose your finger / can still count to 10 – anything so I don’t have to click “Like” when a friend sticks his hand in a snow blower. Several years ago, I cut my finger on my table saw. I wasn’t using Facebook much, but I got a lot of comments on Twitter. No “Like” button there. Some people used the +1 deal (does Google own that or is that public domain?) on other peoples’ thoughts but mainly they just said stuff. Stuff like “I’m so sorry” (that might make a good button) or “OMG, I hope you’re OK!” Of course my close friends also went to great lengths to link me to our mutual friend who had done the snow blower thing.image

Thinking of you / keeping you in our prayers / hoping for the best or something to use when someone posts something that seems dark and foreboding.

Then again, maybe we don’t need buttons, or emoticons, or +1’s; maybe we don’t need to categorize our emotion in these cases at all. Seriously, who benefits from those Likes? Facebook more than us, I think. Clicking that button allows them to associate us with a trend, a product, a thought that they may or may not be tracking today or at some point in the future. I don’t really want to be boiled down into a Facebook stew of people who appear to like cancer or snow blower injuries or broken beer bottles.

Actually, when I look at the short list of things that I said I’d like buttons for, I see a striking resemblance to the categories of greeting cards that are available. I take back my request. I do not want more buttons. I have spent hours (over time) standing in front of the rack of greeting cards only to wonder:

“Is it me, or do the people that write these things not understand real relationships?”

I mean some of the stuff they want me to sign off on and hand to my wife can be filed under “crazy talk” and would likely provoke a very strange look if I gave one to her. It’s no wonder I tend to get her Snoopy® cards. In fact, I’ve been known to find a card that has the sentiment that I’m looking for, cross out the designated event / occasion and write in my own. That says

“I cared enough to buy you a Hallmark™ but they didn’t have one that made any sense.”

I could see getting a “Blank inside” Thank You card and writing a note about how I appreciated the work you did on researching an article that I enjoyed reading. I could see getting a Snoopy™ Get Well card and maybe adding a short note about the snow blower. The same goes with Thinking of You cards. Actually, lately, thinking of you cards seem to be the hardest to buy. I’ve looked for these recently, and they always tend to include things like “in your time of great need” or “as you struggle with…” Really? Isn’t it possible that I’m just thinking of someone and that’s it, or that they have a minor need but I’m still thinking of them?

Some would argue that the original subject doesn’t belong on Facebook. They may be right, but it’s not for me to say what my friends put out there. If they choose to put something in the social media stream, I can ignore it / them or I can try to respond. I’m going to go with the trying to respond thing, I just hope I get it right.

23 thoughts on “Not Enough Buttons

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  1. The pictures are courtesy of our daughter Faith. She recently had the flu. The mask was required by her doctor when she went for her appointment. She also made us wear them when we visited. The balloon was a way better way of saying Get Well than any of the cards available at the time. You can read her blog over at Sound of Swarming

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  2. This is just, well…. likeable… and punny and just perfect… how to reduce your whole life into a small group of buttons on Face Book is tooo funny. But a button that say ” WTF” might help me some with some of the posts I get from my 23 year old son and his friends!

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  3. I totally have a blog post on this subject, too! It’s called “Don’t Like It Like That” and I still reel over people who like the worst crap.
    Yesterday, I actually saw a status where my friend paid homage to her sister who had passed. Underneath that, some idiot B!t@h posted, “Your sister, LOL!” I must have stared at it for a good minute, wondering what on earth was LOL about it.
    Greeting cards, gah. I’ve almost given up. I haven’t found anyone who minds a handwritten note, instead. Why are we, as writers, some of whom are artistic as well, actually paying for writing with illustrations?
    Great post!

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    1. Your post was fun to read. I hope that it’s people who don’t understand the medium. I can’t accept that someone actually likes that somebody lost a finger. As for greeting cards, I buy a lot of blank ones now. You’ve seen some of my quality illustrations in recent posts, so I won’t be starting with a blank page. The problem I have with handwriting a note is the handwriting part. I mess that up and the notes end up having bits scratched out. Still better than some you can buy. Thanks!

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  4. I’d wished that there were more buttons on Facebook but decided they probably wouldn’t be anymore useful than the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ already present. I’ve seen death or illness announcements by my friends on FB; many people click “Like” in such cases, which is ironic indeed. I’ve been pondering over this digital interaction of humans. I saw a video once of some guys who took time to physically visit their online friends some with whom they’d been friends for years. The welcome was cautious, even outright unfriendly. And a certain man recently remarked on a blog that public places, like elevators, restaurants, parks, etc, have become such that people scarcely look at another in the face, let alone exchange simple, quick greetings, especially if they’re unacquainted. Where I work, in the elevator we stare at the blank walls or roof; and if there is a mirror on one wall, we avoid it by all means, and become like prisoners with almost nowhere else to look but the floor.
    I think, as humanity, we have totally lost trust in one another. So much evil around us has disaffected and alienated us from one another. Everything, every social institution, has been abused and perverted. We are permanently insecure, cautious; we’re frightened. Technology, being of such unparalleled benefits, has enabled us to associate with another in spite of everything, although we associate almost like machines. I mean, no matter how hilarious a joke of FB is, writing “ha, ha, ha!” below it does not replace the good old, guffawing, rib-cracking laughter among friends and family members, when they double over and choke and fall and roll and frolic about, and you laugh more and more because of that.
    We are digital. Which is why they always have those signatures at the bottom of online forms, to find out if you’re not a computer or a robot.

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    1. Thanks Peter. you’re so right about the laughter. There’s no way to use an emoticon to convey the sense of a person laughing so hard the soda or milk comes out of their nose. I talk to people in elevators. I don’t do it all the time and it’s not always welcome, but I try. I have a draft of a blog post about that, from a time when my father first took me to a skyscraper.

      The thing about actually visiting FB friends is sad. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate your insight.

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  5. After reading this post, I can’t believe you wrote something that I wrote for my client. In fact, I wrote it on Monday, its a satire article on Facebook and my client still hasn’t uploaded it yet, so I can forward the link. When I read your post, I was like Oh My God, Dan just wrote my words, thoughts and ideas, now what am I gonna do? There are minor differences so I am hoping I can still make an impression.

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    1. I hope your client doesn’t read my blog. Another blogger that I am friends with wrote a more humorous (rant) version a year ago that she just pointed me to. I guess this occurred to many people. I’ll go with great minds thinking alike.

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  6. I “liked” your post here. I’m not sure what I meant by it now that you got me thinking about it. I suppose I meant…you’re right, you can’t categorize emotions. This whole social media thing is so strange anyway. Talking to total strangers. Putting some of most personal thoughts out there for whoever, where ever to read. I liked this cuz it felt like we were having a conversation while eating a slice of pie.

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    1. Mmmm pie. That is such a comfortable setting, I think we can all imagine that. I had thought about this for a while, and then someone liked someone else’s post about being injured and it just seemed dumb. Thanks for reading!

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  7. So true…We’re going to have an entire generation for whom the word ‘like’ just means ‘i read this post!’ When i was on google buzz, the early adopters all decided that clicking +1 meant you read the post, so i’ve just continued with that and use the FB like button for keeping track of how far i’ve read in a stream.

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    1. That’s a great point. I have a friend who clicks the ‘favorite’ option on tweets he wants to go back to and read later. It’s not a favorite, it’s just that that’s the easiest way to track them. Thanks!

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  8. There are a lot of things that befuddle me about using Facebook for personal purposes. Thank you for touching on this topic. While MySpace’s heyday is long gone, its emoticon future was very useful for communicating human emotion in an online forum.

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  9. I “Like” your post, despite the fact that I agree with the challenges that the “Like” button creates.
    I dragged my feet to join the Facebook crowd, and although I think there are necessary boundaries to keep on Facebook, depending of the group of people you interact with, Facebook can be an easy way to keep in touch. But the options are limited in a world where we are only supposed to “Like,” even when another feedback would be more appropriate. The same can be said with blog posts, too.
    Thank you again for another thought-provoking post.

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    1. Thanks. I was late to arrive on Facebook as well. At first I thought I would limit it to people I actually knew as friends, but the list has expanded over time. That always makes me wonder about what I am posting. While a friend might be interested in the fact that I have the flu, I’m not sure random connections will be. When I “like” a blog post, it usually means that I like the work the writer did. I hope it’s taken that way. I dropped one of your French posts into Google translator. I wondered what was lost in translation but I think I still liked the post.

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