Dislike feature on Facebook will ruin the anonymity we cherish

By david looby

Published 22/09/2015 | 00:00

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

A sea of emptiness may be a harsh way to describe the online phenomenon that is Facebook, but there you go.

For us Irish, Facebook is a means of exacting revenge on our country, on everyone in it, through a passive aggressive, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, knife in the back, dig here, a holiday snap there. All to invoke the ire and jealousy of our 'friends'.

The Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said this week that his company is working on a 'dislike' button. Imagine the online haters, you know the type. The people who rant and rave whenever there's something to rant and rave about. Theses are the people who cause your finger to hover uncontrollably over the drop down menu where you can hide posts from people. Now Zuckerberg is encouraging all out warfare by encouraging us to openly declare our dislike for someone.

Some of my American friends no longer use Facebook because they have found it to be too negative, too bitchy, too full of people whose opinions they have not time for.

To receive a like in today's society is the equivalent of someone inviting you to a party at their house 20 years ago. It is an affirmation of self. A virtual high five. Except that it is all in your head.

I have been guilty of going fishing for likes on occasion, but would I ever press dislike even if the most narcissistic, vain, annoying person I'm 'friends' with on Facebook posts another stupid selfie. Never in a million years.

For one, we're too polite as a race to do this. We would happily put down our phones and moan about what someone has put up on their Facebook timeline, from images of their food, to their sharing another win-a-holiday competition page, to those head hurtingly annoying images of people's toes as they lounge on the beach. Disliking someone on Facebook will not work in Ireland. It's like that awkward silence you feel after you send a text message during an in depth exchange and the crucial meaning of what you wanted to say gets somehow miscontrued along the way. All irony will be lost. You will just be disliking someone and they will see it. Facebook reveals a lot about who we are. Some people post cute pictures of their children all the time, other people post entertaining clips, while others post selfies and more still post rants.

While, in theory, the dislike feature sounds like it will lead to all kinds of online carnage, it will be nothing of the sort. Apart from being a playground for some teenage grudges, this is not an arena which will be used for cathartic purposes.

Zuckerberg said he wants Facebook's 'dislike' button to be used for empathy instead of scorn, like expressing concern over tragic world events. The much discussed 'dislike' button won't even be called 'dislike'.

Our daily feeds will never be the same again as we watch with baited breath for someone ballsy enough to push the dislike button.

The Good Woman and I had a double birthday celebration at the weekend, complete with Facebook posts. Feel free to dislike it when Zuckeberg gets around to installing that contentious button. It was our first time having creche friends over, acccompanied by their parents, and, barring some last minute tantrums and utter disorganisation, the party went off without a glitch. We now have enough toys to fill a warehouse and too much cake for our fridge. The joy on the children's faces as they got to play with their friends was something to behold.

Wexford People

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