WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Stop trying to become Facebook. First you made your homepages virtually identical. Now you are replacing Favorites with Likes — the glorious yellow star with the hideous red heart.
Whenever someone changes something on the Internet, I get upset. The Internet is my living room. Just as I would hate if you came in and rearranged all my chairs when I was not looking. I hate whenever someone changes the face of the Internet, even a little bit. It is like when your significant other gets an unfortunate haircut. He or she is fully entitled to it. He or she has bodily autonomy and you respect that. But, as the one who has to look at this person every day, you wish that someone had prevented his going to Cost Cutters and asking for “The Donald, please.”
Stop, please. Twitter, you are where I go so that I do not have to be on Facebook. Perhaps your user growth has been stagnant lately and you are trying to look more like the rest of the Internet. But stop trying to be Facebook. As I said the last time this happened, this is like your mistress getting reconstructive surgery to look more like your wife. Don’t you understand? I CAME HERE TO ESCAPE!
On Facebook, Like makes sense. But “Favorite” had an ambiguity that was precious. I think this wanton change fails to take into consideration how wielding the tools of social media develops into a form of language. The buttons and the emoji and all the various tools we are given define the parameters of that language. Social media has its own argot, its own syntax. There are Problematic Faves and Bookmark Faves and I-See-What-You-Did-There Faves and a whole array of such nuances. Because the Favorite was Not Quite A Like, it could encompass more.
And now the Like has replaced it. A Favorite is not a Like. To declare the two equivalent wreaks havoc on an emerging language. This is the same kind of righteous anger people feel when someone brings an interloper word into the dictionary.
Yes, I realize that my stance seems to be “status quo now and forever!”
But you can’t change language like this and not expect a pushback. (Nor, of course, can you expect the pushback to do anything.)
I do this because I don’t think these changes are trivial. The Internet really is our living room. A recent study found that teens are spending an average of about 9 hours a day on their devices “watching video, listening to music, texting, and posting.” This sounds like a lot, but it just confirms what we already knew: the Internet is where we live, most of the time. So a change to that room is actually a big deal. A change to the way we communicate there is actually worth noting. We are right to get upset.
I know that Twitter is struggling. But is becoming Facebook really the price of survival? That’s a fate worse than death.