Paul Muhlhauser and Andrea Campbell
Paul Muhlhauser is an Assistant Professor of English at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. When asked about his heroes, he listed three: 1. Ernie Pantusso 2. Ned Rockland 3. Anita Sarkeesian. After considering competing in Alaska’s Mt. Marathon race, he decided to stay at home and watch TV with his wife and his kids-Wesley, Huebert, Scabs, Veronica, Midge, Vinny, Mites, Selway, Marla, and their little guy.
Andrea Campbell is a Clinical Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University Tri-Cities. When she’s not teaching literature, she’s working on her next project which involves reasearching and writing about a true passion: futuristic vampires with technological super powers that battle for world domination and the love of one special woman.
In this paper we study social aspects of using the Like button for purposes of impression management, identity construction, and maintenance of social ties online. On the theoretical level our investigation combines Goffman’s notion of face-work with concepts of social network analysis, shedding light on what we dub ‘nano-level’ interaction and sociality on social networking sites. Our data come from a 2013 classroom survey in which 26 Finnish university students were asked about their motives for and ways of using the Like button. Our results show that though the Like button was designed to allow users to express their positive evaluations of the contents of Facebook posts, comments, and pictures, it was in actual fact used for a wide variety of purposes, from dating efforts to conversation regulation and maintenance of social ties. Our results also reveal that the networked Facebook audience affects the users’ liking behavior, and that users reflect their liking based on previous likes.
Facebook is to trial “reactions” options for users responding to content, proving that merely being able to “like” something was somewhat limiting the human emotional spectrum.
From Friday, Ireland and Spain (assumingly particularly emotive nations?) will be the first to test the new feature. Despite wide reporting that Facebook was working on a “dislike” button in September, it seems company boss Mark Zuckerberg has decided that a binary choice of like and dislike is too specific.
Instead, Engadget reports that “icons” that represent “love, laughter, cheeky smiles [and] shock anger” will be some of those available to users in the trial, which starts this weekend. The hope is that one will no longer be constrained in one’s emotional response on the social network.
It can feel awkward to like a post about somebody’s beloved dog dying – but how else to show appreciation of the cute tribute photo of them as young child and puppy? Zuckerberg acknowledged back in September interviews that this was an issue:
“What [people] really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment.
“We have an idea that we’re going to be ready to test soon, and depending on how that does, we’ll roll it out more broadly.”
Emotional tone online can be a minefield, often lost in translation or misinterpreted, which is why canny internet users have thought of workarounds.
The reaction gif, for instance, is now part of the everyday internet experience, and there are popular website repositories to find the best (think Giphy.com). Twitter recognised just how integral reaction gifs were to many users’ online experience when it introduced support for animated gifs in June 2014.
With its new reactions panel, it seems Facebook is finally (eye roll) catching up to the fact people have a varied, rich internal gamut of emotions. It’s not the most revolutionary advancement, however. Facebook’s new reactions do look a lot like a subset of emoji. They are reminiscent too of the stickers available in Gmail’s Hangouts (in addition to actual supported emoji), and the number of responses one can choose at the end of BuzzFeed articles.
My reaction to Facebook’s reactions? Underwhelmed. But I don’t think that’s an option.