Facebook recently launched Reactions, those new emojis that live alongside the Like button, and just like that we went from one way to sum up our feelings to six.
It’s not the dislike button so many have wanted — that’s never happening, sorry — but at least you don’t have to click like when a friend suffers a death in the family or is injured in a car accident. Of course we never liked those anyway, but Facebook’s algorithm makes clicking something all but required to ensure timely updates are delivered to our News Feed.
You can still like if you want, but now you can also choose Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry. And no, you can’t pick more than one.
But there’s a right way, a not-so-good way and a wrong way to use Facebook’s new reactions.
The usage and meaning of Like hasn’t changed at all. It’s a simple thumbs-up indicating you saw the post but devoid of any real feeling. It’s the email equivalent of “got it, thanks.” Use it as you see fit, just remember it’s not the only option now. But it still might be the best option.
For all the times you saw someone respond to a post with “wish I could like this 100 times,” that’s love. When a like just won’t do, there’s love. It’s sometimes an acceptable substitute for OMG (see WOW entry below). Love could also serve as a simple way to tell someone you care and are thinking about them, but Facebook would have to clarify the usage a little before that could happen successfully.
If your typed reaction is or would be LOL or ROTFL or even LQTM (laughing quietly to myself), then this is the Reaction for you.
This is the one where I would advise extra caution. Wow is absolutely broad and a perfect substitute for “are you kidding me?” or “OMG!” But it has the most potential to be read the wrong way by the recipient. Case in point — that annoying friend who posts the most mundane stuff might be the perfect target of a Wow as in “seriously?” But like email in general, it’s easy to misread something when there’s no context. So before you think you’re being sly and putting one over on someone, just make sure you think it through. And just a thought: If you’re responding or thinking negatively anyway, you might want to consider just skipping without clicking or unfollowing/unfriending. Choosing the right Reaction requires thought, but it shouldn’t be an all-day project.
All people really wanted was a way to like and dislike something, but Facebook said no to dislike out of fear it would perpetuate negative conversations. So sad is a piece of that dislike button, the one you would use instead of clicking like to acknowledge a sickness or accident.
Use it to show outrage and disgust toward a topic, not toward the person posting it. I saw people in my feed using angry to respond to stories about the water situation in Flint, Mich.
I for one am happy Facebook has moved beyond the Like button, but did it so that it’s not too jarring and overwhelming. Reactions are a work in progress, and that means their intended uses are likely to be fine-tuned over time. More could be added, and some could be taken away.
Hopefully Facebook will like and love our feedback. Anything else would make us sad and angry.