What’s not to ‘like’? There’s plenty on Facebook

There it was on Facebook, a memory-jogging picture of Spokane’s Joe Albi Stadium. It was posted on a recent football Friday, not on “Throwback Thursday.” One of my long-ago friends is a prep football referee.

I clicked “like.” So did others from Ferris High School’s class of ’72. I added a comment, something about marching on that field with the Ferris drill team. Soon, friends who hadn’t seen each other since our 40th reunion were sharing memories.

That’s the fun of Facebook, but it’s not all fun. A thumbs-up icon is hardly a suitable response to someone’s loss. Now, an alternative to Facebook’s “like” button is coming.

“Not every moment is a good moment,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday at the company’s California headquarters. He announced that Facebook is close to unveiling a button or buttons “to help express empathy and sympathy.”

I’m not likely to post anything about a bad day at work, or an argument with my teenager. I have shared on Facebook the deaths of two much-loved pets. And I have posted news articles about tragedies, nearby and across the world.

Zuckerberg didn’t say the added option will be “dislike.” According to an article by Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier, the “like” feature has been used since 2009 on Facebook, which has 1.49 billion users. In the past, Tuesday’s article said, the company hadn’t wanted any “dislike” button due to concerns it could discourage people from sharing.

Should it be “dislike?” If not, then what? I asked my Facebook friends.

“We were discussing this last night. Half my household thinks it will increase bullying online,” said one. “The other half liked the idea of being able to acknowledge a sad-unhappy post without having to ‘like’ it or leave an actual comment.”

Two Facebook friends suggested “dislike” or a sad-face emoticon. A woman who attends my church said, “I’m all for a thumbs down! However, don’t want the ensuing arguments to follow!!!”

I can almost hear a deadpan delivery of this comment, from one of my older son’s friends: “Tolerate, for friends and family.” My favorite suggestion, from another Everett friend, was “If you can’t say anything nice, just keep right on going” — and she added a wink emoticon.

At Everett’s Trinity Lutheran College, Michael DeLashmutt teaches a course in the Computer Information Systems department called “Ethics in an Information Age.” He sees Facebook as a positive way to stay connected in a world that’s increasingly mobile. People move away from family and change jobs, but can stay in contact through words, pictures and “likes.”

“It’s really powerful,” DeLashmutt said Thursday. “My wife and I have lived all over the world. We have friends on Facebook, and even if we’re not actively communicating, we feel that relationship is somehow maintained.”

DeLashmutt, who is Trinity’s academic dean and vice president for academic affairs, said that generations ago people in a village might dress in black if a friend died. “We have lost some of those skills of conveying sorrow and empathy toward one another. We don’t have the shared rituals we once did,” he said.

A “dislike” button, or something like it, would be “a way to show solidarity without excessive commitment,” DeLashmutt said.

And bullying? Is he worried about the ease of sharing a negative response with just one click?

Although DeLashmutt views technology in general as neutral, he said its use can be loaded with moral implications. “Certainly there is a likelihood of bullying,” he said. Cruelty and danger are aspects of social media, but DeLashmutt emphasizes that we mustn’t forget human dignity while using technology to interact.

Rather than a thumbs-down button, DeLashmutt said he hopes Facebook offers emoticons, “a smiley face, a level face and a frowny face.”

“The good folks at Facebook will come up with something,” he said. “We can like or dislike it.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Floatplane wreckage recovery in Puget Sound begins

The U.S. Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle Deep Drone 8,000, a barge and a crane in recovery efforts.

U.S. 2 was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish on Monday evening because the Bolt Creek fire spread close to the highway. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire spreads

The highway was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish, mile posts 46 to 50.

This screenshot shows a man being hoisted to a rescue helicopter Monday after being involved in a plane crash near Lake Cavanaugh. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Brothers rescued after plane crash en route to Snohomish area

The two men, 78 and 79, were flying from Skagit County to an airstrip south of Snohomish when their plane went missing.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Police: Purse snatching in Everett park led to stabbing

A Snohomish woman, 36, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

A semi truck blows smoke out of its exhaust pipes while driving southbound on I-5 on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reader: Did a tractor-trailer cover my car in diesel soot?

Probably not, according to a Department of Ecology spokesperson, since diesel emissions are getting “cleaner.”

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
City, county studying new outdoor stadium for Everett AquaSox

MLB facility requirements prompted government leaders to look at replacing Funko Field, either there or elsewhere.

Compass Health’s Broadway Campus in Everett. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Judge dismisses Compass Health lawsuit over Marysville man’s death

Joshua Klick’s estate argued his relationship with a counselor signaled negligence. A judge found the claim had expired.

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
Somers: Federal aid creates ‘historic opportunity’ to tackle challenges

The Snohomish County executive’s plan focuses on public safety, housing, child care, climate — and mountain biking.

Most Read