Twitter killed its fave feature and joined the ranks of instagram and facebook in utilizing “likes”. So now, what was once a star is now a little heart and because the internet is deathly afraid of change, people were not happy.
I get it. Things that are new are scary. Starring tweets was comforting: like when your tweet put a gold star on your homework assignment because you did a good job. “Hey kid, that’s a good tweet. Here’s a gold star. I am proud of you.” That’s nice to receive when you’re working overtime to make people pay attention to you online. But I think a heart is even more encouraging: it’s the extra kick you need that encourages you to keep tweeting. The easiest argument against the heart is that it’s too forward. It’s called the like button but it doesn’t really feel like a “like”, it feels like a “love”; as in, you LOVE this tweet. You’re probably thinking to yourself that a tweet is fine, you may even like it… but do you love it, and if you don’t, are you prepared to lie just to keep that tweet around.
Well I say do it. Who cares if you don’t love that tweet? You at least like it enough to consider it so why not entertain this lie. As a bonus, it’ll make the tweet maker feel really good. Also, from an aesthetic perspective, the like button is wonderful. You press it and it explodes in this quick orgasmic burst that just gives you joy. I’ve been liking tweets I don’t even care about just to see it over and over again.
If there is a valid criticism to be had about it, it’s the potential increase in misunderstandings. Twitter is already full of people (let’s be honest, mostly men) who read too much into things such as a woman favoriting a bunch of their tweets. The like feature just complicates that more because now it feels like she LOVES your tweets. Does she love your tweets enough for you to slide in the DMs? Probably not, but you’ll convince yourself that the answer is yes anyways. It’s here that we enter into what I now dub “The Heart Eyes Conundrum”. I’ll explain: every so often, I actually post a selfie on my instagram and sometimes when I do a woman friend of mine will comment with “😍😍😍”. There are a number of ways one could take this: 1) maybe she’s just being nice 2) maybe she just appreciates the fact that I look gorgeous in my photo or 3) maybe she’s in love with me. There’s a good chance that the heart eyes under a pic from a friend doesn’t mean anything at all…. but what if it does. Hence, “The Heart Eyes Conundrum”. But on the other hand, if it is your intention to tell someone you love them in vague, indiscriminate ways, this is perfect. My friend Monique and I, have a recurring joke about the use of faving tweets to hint that you’re interested in someone and clearly someone at twitter was paying attention to us #influencers because now we have a less subtle tool to fire off those sublikes. “Hey great tweet, also I’m in love with you”, “wow I like the way you think, also I can’t live without you”, “haha that’s really fun, we should get married”; the new like button can allow you to say so many more words than ever before.
The other problem here is the use of the casual fave seems irresponsible now. I and many other others used to fave tweets purely as mere acknowledgements that your tweet was read. It was a read receipt that was silently understood. The heart seems excessive for that and could lead to misunderstandings you never planned for. This is what I refer to as “The Ralph Wiggum Paradox”. In the season 4 episode of The Simpsons titled “I Love Lisa”, Ralph is the only kid in class who didn’t get a Valentine’s Day card from the other kids. Lisa feels bad so she just takes one of her leftover cards and puts Ralph’s name on it and hands it to him out of pity. Ralph is understandably excited but he takes this purely nice gesture as genuine interest. The card said “I choo-choo-choose you” and Ralph believes it fully with no real evidence that Lisa has ever shown an interest in him before. Lisa did something to be nice and to let Ralph know that his existence is acknowledged but instead Ralph took the action literally and believed himself to be cho-cho-chose. On the surface it would seem silly that someone might read too much into a “like” for a response to a tweet about a good Jamaican restaurant in the city, but when you see that heart icon show up in your notifications it does something to you and causes you to believe things that make no sense. With great likes come great responsibility.
Of course, none of these genuine concerns are the real heart of the issue. It’s about exclusivity and the specialness of twitter over the instagrams and the facebooks. The star separated twitter and without it, it’s just a reminder that twitter is moving closer to the uncool zone and we’ll all soon be moving on to something else. I mean, I’m sure this is true but at least the hearts are nice to look at before we go.