Alden Boon

Facebook Launches Reaction Buttons; War is Coming

14/10/2015

When Facebook announced it was launching a ‘Dislike’ button, speculation ran rife. In this social-media age, giving the thumbs down is as good as giving someone a tight slap, a kick in the gut, and then the coup de grâce of decapitation. I naturally was a detractor of it. But of course, Facebook didn’t become a USD245-billion company by being predictably jejune.

Instead, it announced it was expanding the ‘Like’ button with six new emojis to help users better express their emotions. I’m just going to come out on a limb and say it: Facebook ripped off my future employer Pixar’s Inside Out. But, as Gina of Brooklyn Nine-nine so eloquently puts it, emojis, not the eyes, are the windows to your soul.

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As someone born with a pair of small eyes, I guess I should welcome this move. My friends think I’m enigmatic; a closed book, and they are never privy to my innermost thoughts.

But should I be? I believe the launch of the emojis is a precursor to World War III.

I’m not saying we should distill our complicated emotions into just the lone ‘Like’ button. When I like a BBC News article with a headline that reads:”ISIS destroys yet another cultural heritage site” — even though I haven’t actually read the article and I merely want my friends to think of me as worldly and discerning when the Like activity is publicised —  am I unwittingly pledging support for ISIS and risking wrongful incarceration? The effectiveness, function and purpose of ‘Life’ have long been debated.

But like everything else on the internet, things created with the best of intentions can get abused. Here’s how.

Facebook Reaction Buttons

Crying

Introduced in February 2009, the ‘Like‘ Button had already put the wheels of war in motion. Have you ever written an emotionally-supercharged post, leave your desk, come back seven minutes later only to realise… no one had given a hoot?  Not your admirers whom you have wrapped around your finger: the ones you can usually depend on to chalk up the Likes. Aggravating matters is the fact that your cliques have saved their thumbs up for another acquaintance who announced he had just adopted a shelter dog. So, they’re online and well and perfectly capable of using their what-you-mistakenly-thought-were-atrophying hands to reach for the Like button. … *Evil plan brewing. Must. Eliminate. Competition.*

Angry

Now, you don’t just get to Like a post; you get to LURRVVVEEEE it. Contentions between couples will rise, and domestic violence will burgeon. Jealous girlfriends will monitor their clueless boyfriends’ activities. “WHY DID YOU LOVE YOUR EX’S WEDDING PHOTOS?!” Lovelorn singles will get their hopes up, only to have their hearts crushed by their crushes when the latter retract their hearts, or even downgrade the heart to a mere Like. What happened? I’ll tell you what happened: they’re ex-Samsung phone users now using iPhones that are too small for their fat, buttery fingers.

Laugh

The ‘Haha‘ button is just patronising and we all know it. I use ‘haha’ as a suffix; to make people feel they are interesting company.  What? It’s the decorous cousin to the ‘Ok.‘ reply. I foresee quarrels going “DON’T YOU DARE HAHA YOUR WAY OUT OF THIS!” As someone whose defence mechanism is laughter, this is probably a reaction button I’d abuse. “So sorry for your loss. You’d meet your grandmother in heaven one day. HAHA.”

Yay

Every one needs motivation but no one likes a cheerleader. Speaking in their cloyingly-saccharine voices… doling out overflowing optimism with largesse… spewing their cat-poster affirmations… cheerleaders are too much to suffer. The ‘Yay‘ button seismically elevates my status from clarinet-playing band geek to cheerleader and I’m not sure if I’d ever be ready for that role.

Friend: I lost 10kg in three months!

Me: (Insert YAY emoji) Well done! You can do it babe! Another 10 to go!

Friend: … I’m already at my target —

Me: Now the last 10kg journey is going to be hard because you’ve hit a plateau, so I want you to sprint. Literally and figuratively.

Roll Eyes

Once, I walked into a meeting room only to have a client exclaim, “Wow, you’re a writer? Would have never pegged you as one.” #truestory. Belying that exuberant, slack-jawed countenance of the WOW!!!!!!!!! emoji is someone’s utter disdain for you. Its deception at its zenith. That someone obviously never held you in high regard and hence is expressing his astonishment at your ability to achieve something even remotely amazing.”I ran a 3km today!””Wow, with that knee and all that weight? You’re a real trooper.”

Sad

We all have that one emo friend who laments… cryptically. Facebook statuses are his diary entries. “Just woke up from a wreckage of dreams. It took me back to that time when we… I wonder if…” or “It’s not that I don’t want it. Just that it affects not just me but the people around me. But it is the one thing I’ve been waiting for my whole life.” WHAT IS IT?! But because your New Year resolution is to be a better person and an empathetic one, you offer up the Sad expression. Which in turn makes you an involuntary counsellor button-holed into a litany of rants that bores you and numbs you. Facebook chat comes with the ‘Seen’ tick, and so you have to reply something. But you just want out of the conversation. And so you type: “HAHA.”

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Using the ‘Angry‘ emoji is a big no-no. Notice anything different? Yep. The other four characters are yellow-faced;  Angry is the only one that’s red-faced. To use this button is to stand for racism. And that, my friend, is just wrong.

And what would the accompanying sentence to the reaction-button activity be? “Alden Boon reacted to a post.”? Great, now everyone’s going to think of me as “that emo friend“.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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