For those who missed it, or who don’t use Twitter (perish the thought), things changed in a BIG, BAD WAY yesterday.
Surely you remember Twitter’s popular “favorite” option, represented by a star, which served a load of useful purposes. You could use the star to bookmark an article you wanted to read later, or signify your approval of a funny/astute/timely comment, or even to politely end conversations. Like a versatile word, it could mean almost anything depending on the context. It was entirely functional, and entirely useful.
Now, the star has vanished and the favorite has flown. In its place, we get the concept of a “like.” In theory, that would be fine—it works for Facebook, and in the Twitter universe you could imagine the concept taking on a certain flexibility and replacing the favorite.
Twitter even released a video telling us exactly how multi-faceted the new “like” can be:
Here’s the problem: The “like” is represented by a heart. And a heart is not versatile, or multi-faceted. A heart is a heart, and it means love. What kind of love? It depends—sometimes flirty, sometimes serious, sometimes sisterly. But always love.
And that single-purpose utility brings up a whole slate of problems that are currently destroying my Twitter experience. I will now enumerate those issues in the hopes that Twitter reverses this error and bring back the star. (Or at least drops the pretense that they’re not completely copying Facebook, and gives us a thumbs-up icon instead.)
The coy romantic connotation of the heart has really thrown us for a gender loop, Twitter. Back in the days of the star, I was just showing appreciation, no matter the author. Male, female, it didn’t matter. Now, the heart is in my head. (Digression: That should be the title of a Phil Collins song.)
I can’t “heart” a female user’s tweet without feeling like I’m conveying something untoward. Worse, I’m conveying that untoward something in a sort of passive, cutesy way. That’s not the image I want to present to the world, Twitter! I’m married and faithful! I’m strong and decisive! I’m the kind of man that uses stars to signify his approval!
Seriously, let’s pretend I had a platonic female friend in real life, and she sent me a thought-provoking text. What would she think if I sent a heart emoji in reply?
It leaves me two choices when I come across smart, female-authored tweets: Use the heart, and be a disgusting pig, or don’t use the heart, and be a misogynist…aka a disgusting pig. Thanks, Twitter.
For all the reasons listed above, it’s also real weird to “heart” another guy. It gives off a definite “I’m-a-little-too-invested-in-the-friendship” vibe. I’m like the kind of friend who buys his male friends heart-shaped chocolates on Valentine’s Day, or calls up to wish him a happy Father’s Day if he has kids.
I don’t want to be that kind of friend. But I also don’t want to be the kind of friend that doesn’t support his friends on social media. So I guess the whole idea of friendship is over for me. Thanks, Twitter.
Let’s say there’s an article on Salon called, “I’m a proud Neo-Nazi, and I have a story that’s going to break your heart.”
What is that article about? I have no idea, and the author seems like a really bad guy. Still, I’m kinda curious to read it. Is the story actually going to break my heart? I’ll be the judge of that, Neo-Nazi! In the past, if I saw this article tweeted out in a busy moment, I might have fav’ed it to read for later. Everybody knows the fav is a bookmark, so there’s no implied support for neo-Nazis or their ilk.
Now, I’m screwed. The minute I put a “heart” next to that story, the Twitter mobs will charge out of their caves to condemn me. I’ll lose all my jobs, my wife, my home, and my money. In a year New York Magazine will do a vaguely sympathetic story about me, but it will be far too late. All because of the goddam heart.
So my two options are to lose everything I’ve ever loved, or forever wonder what that Neo-Nazi had to say that was so heartbreaking. Thanks, Twitter.
(Note: Even if the star does come back, be careful about fav’ing Neo-Nazi articles.)
There’s no good way to respond to a starred tweet. It stops the conversation cold, which is such a useful feature when interacting with weirdos.
But try giving a weirdo a heart, Twitter. That’s all the encouragement they need to keep talking and eventually fall in love and start stalking you. The heart is completely and totally off the table. Which means that we can either go silent, in which case the weirdo will become enraged and murder us, or keep the conversation going forever, in which case we might as well just kill ourselves now. Either way, we die. Thanks, Twitter.
In conclusion, the heart has doomed me to become a friendless, disgusting, neo-Nazi pig who will soon lose everything he loves and die.