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Emotions, in the time of Facebook

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You either love it or hate it. Users have mixed feelings about Facebook’s ‘Reactions’.

Have you ever wondered if clicking the ‘like’ button on the Facebook status update of a friend who lost his pet is the best way to empathise with him? Have you felt that the antics of some politicians warrant a laugh rather than a ‘like’ on the post about them? Have you ever been outraged by an article and felt that liking such a story is nothing short of sacrilege? If your answer is a yes, you are probably a supporter of the latest Facebook offering, ‘Reactions’, that allows users to signal love, haha, wow, sad, and angry as their response to a post. The feature can be accessed if you linger on the ‘like’ button for a while. Netizens are just coming to terms with the offering in the midst of all the excitement of Donald Trump emerging as front-runner for the Republican nominee for the American presidency, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an Academy award. The emojis, Facebook claims, were developed following consultations with sociologists and users of the platform.

HR executive Monika Verma feels that the update does not make any sense. “There are no emotions to convey disappointment, shame and fear. Even if you are outraged about a post, it will continue to appear on your timeline. I do not see any point, besides an excuse for Facebook to tweak their algorithm based on our interests. I would much rather keep the old ‘like’ button than have to click on a host of emojis, which, in many cases, may trivialise a serious post.”

Media professional Shalini Nair thinks that Reactions is a great idea. “A ‘like’ button is not capable of portraying any emotion, and does not work for the younger generation, who want to express what they actually feel.”

Devendra Pratap, an academic, contends, “I’m not a fan of the new set of emojis, but this was bound to come about. No one has the time or the inclination to actually write in the comments section, and would rather prefer to use an emoji to express what they feel. I think that soon this trend will catch up with most online forums that allow human engagement.”

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2017 3:24:04 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/emotions-in-the-time-of-facebook/article8300173.ece