I'm Once Again Defending Like Buttons

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 1 min read

Jeannie McGeehan: The Problem With the Favorite Button

I now understand the problem with the favorite button and the path of least resistence. It removes genuine interaction and replaces it with a convenient click. It also creates an inappropriate response situation with regard to certain post topics.

Sometimes I feel like I'm on an island in our space, but I think the "like" button is a useful and good tool for social apps. As the author later states:

True interaction may be a lot more effort than just clicking a button, but it is well worth that extra effort.

I agree that a reply is more personal, but honestly it's not always needed. Also, after using Glass for a few months in 2021, I wrote this piece arguing why it was kind of frustrating to use a social app that didn't have likes.

In short:

  • Most people won't reply, so it's hard to tell if anyone is even seeing what you're saying.
  • Even if people are seeing what you're sharing, the mental weight of posting something in response is high enough that most people won't think of anything to say and also won't post.
  • Those who do decide to post something, will often post something like "nice" or "love it" or "cool" which are all just favorites that they typed out rather than clicked.

I think of likes on social media kind of like non-verbal responses in the real world. When I say something clever and someone around me smiles, they don't have to think of something thoughtful to say as a response, I know they liked what I said, and that makes me happy.