Today I am going to go against the masses and surmise to you that putting a dislike button on Facebook would be a mistake, and it would be a really big one with really big consequences. I really believe that implementing one little button with such a strong message would eventually cause millions and tens of millions to stop using Facebook altogether. Giving users the option to dislike would, at one point or another, alienate and hurt you, me, and even Jim Bob over there.
|How most people think it will be.|
For the last few years, I’ve seen various invitations to different Facebook pages for people trying to get a “dislike” button integrated alongside the all-too-familiar “like” button. Millions have joined these groups, voicing their support for it, and even demanding it from Facebook’s developers. Just today I received an invitation from a group called 100,000 strong to gain a “dislike” button. It has more than 500,000 members now.
A quick search showed me other groups, some of which had many more than that. I’m pretty sure when I first saw these groups, I liked the concept and supported it as well, never putting much thought into it. Now, the very idea makes me sick to my stomach, and I think it’s time I write about it, even if I’m the only one in the world who has a problem with it.
In all fairness, let’s look at why so many people want a dislike button. It seems innocent enough.
My sister updates her status with, “I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of my child throwing up. Poor little thing.” What better time to hit the new and awesome dislike button?
My friend updates his status with, “I just found out that I’m getting fired. No warning or anything.” Again, perfect timing for a dislike button.
I do agree that there are times when a dislike button would be nice. But, I wonder how often those who think it would be a great idea actually stop and think about the other ways in which it could be used.
If you think about it, a dislike button opens up yet another door to jerks, bullies, and those with axes to grind. It leaves the opportunity for others to try and knock you down or take the wind out of your sail. It leaves your cake wide open for anybody to leave poop on it (click here if you don’t know what that is in reference to). And if I’ve learned anything from writing a blog like Single Dad Laughing, there is a never-ending supply of people who will happily do so.
I have quickly come to realize that no matter what I write, what I do, or what I offer, there is always somebody who wants to let me know they don’t like it or that they believe I’m Satan himself. I get emails every single day from people telling me that what I do is a joke, that I have no talent, that I am a bad man, or that I should go **** myself (you fill in that blank; just about any word will do). I’ve had to develop thick skin to do this, despite my best efforts not to. Keeping it going amid such negativity isn’t always easy. I’ve wanted to hang my hat up on more than one occasion because of internet bullies.
I have also observed that more often than not, negative breeds more negative. If the response to something I’ve written starts out positive, the naysayers steer clear. If it starts out negative, other naysayers have no trouble issuing their reprimands. This in turn, keeps the people who liked it, appreciated it, or would have found something useful in it at bay. They’re often too scared and too hesitant to write something positive for fear of backlash. This phenomenon saddens me, really.
|How most people will actually take it.|
But perhaps the biggest reason we should never implement a dislike button is because as human beings, it is extremely difficult to not be sucked into those negative responses and criticisms we receive. I’ve discussed this phenomenon with you before. The positive emails I receive easily outweigh the negatives 99 to 1. Yet, sometimes I can’t stop looking at the one email laden with viciousness. I can’t stop thinking about it. It ruins my day. I dwell on it with all of my energy, and I am not able to write anything new or worthwhile until I find a way to shake it.
Unfortunately, I have to learn how to deal with such ugliness. I’ve chosen Single Dad Laughing and writing as my life. And while I’m not perfect at it, I’m getting a lot better at pushing out the negative voices. But why should you have to? Nobody should really have to learn how to deal with such things. Nobody should really have to grow thick skin. In a small way, doing so let’s the downers win. Doing so takes away the sensitive part of us that is so necessary.
That being said, back to Facebook. I want you to ask yourself something. What happens when they make it incredibly easy for the world to thumbs down anybody or anything that they like? What happens when the bullies and boogers are given such an easy tool to use? What happens when somebody is extremely excited about an accomplishment or an idea, and the first response they see is a big “dislike” staring them in the face?
My guess is, whatever excitement, and whatever was pushing them will be gone. It will put them in a bad mood. It will cause a ripple effect of negativity to those around them. And, it will often shut up the people who would have responded positively or kindly. The comments system in my own blog is an example of it. I’ve received at least a couple dozen emails from people saying they were hurt by a thumbs down on their comment. A couple of them said they wouldn’t be back.
I can promise you, the button would be used for the right reasons, but it would also be used for all the wrong reasons.
For example, I believe it would become a simple weapon that schoolmates would use to bring down their peers. I can see it now. A kid is running for student government. It takes all of the guts he has to do so. He posts on his Facebook wall, “hey, everybody vote for me!”
Immediately, classmates who are cheering for his opponent rally and spread the word for everybody to go hit dislike on the kid’s post. The negative responses start stacking up high and deep. The kid sees how many people “dislike” him and he gives up. It ruins whatever he thought made him good enough to run at all. He officially feels worthless. That’s one example of thousands of scenarios that could play out.
But viciousness is only the first half of the equation. The second half is carelessness. People would dislike things without ever thinking how it might affect those they are thumbs-downing. People would dislike things because they simply disagree, not having any idea how much their one small choice might hurt another or what ramifications such a thoughtless little click might have.
It doesn’t really matter what a person posts. A single thumbs down could suck any happiness right out of it. A single thumbs down could end something incredible that just might have happened in somebody’s life had encouragement ensued instead of negativity. A single thumbs down could keep some of the greatest accomplishments from ever taking place. And a lot of thumbs down… could sometimes destroy a person.
Some of the people in this world are simply not mature enough for a dislike button. It’s that simple. Some of the people in this world have entire wheelbarrows full of poop to leave on the wedding cakes of others. Some of the people in this world don’t think before they do things.
And that’s why Facebook should never install a dislike button. It makes it too damn easy. I understand that most of the time all of this wouldn’t be an issue for people. Most of the time it would be used properly. But I’m also betting there isn’t one of us who wouldn’t grow to hate Facebook because of it.
Besides, if you had something crappy happen to you, wouldn’t you rather see the actual words “I feel for you”, “bummer”, or “that stinks, man,” instead of a big thumbs down?
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
Oh, and I decided to start our own Facebook Page. I think it’s important that they know that not everybody is for it, even if I’m the only one. I hope you’ll join me. It’s called 100,000 strong against a dislike button. If you’d like to “like” it, click here to visit the page, or simply click this button:
If you’d like to dislike it, sorry. The button doesn’t exist yet. I hope it never does.
PS, what do you think? Am I over-analyzing it? Is it a harmless little button, and nothing more? Why do you think Facebook hasn’t added it yet? I’d love to hear your comments after you really think it through. If it’s your first time here, feel free to poke around. We have a lot of fun around here.