Remember when Facebook was just about you hit “Like” on something and leave it be if you had nothing else to say? Ah, those were the days…. not anymore.
When I was in college, Facebook released an update that allowed us to now “react” to posts to show the OP how their audience felt about it. Perhaps this was to clear up the misinterpretations of people’s emotions on the Internet. It didn’t work greatly since people can still lie about their reactions.
These reactions included the regular thumbs up, love, laughing, surprised, sad, and anger. At first, I thought it was okay but I also feared it could be used against people, like with the anger reaction.
Many people were actually hoping for a dislike button which I was firmly against the moment I first heard it mentioned. I didn’t want to see who was fed up with my nonstop posts of otherworldly subjects! So that other side of me was happy to receive reactions instead of a dislike button.
From there on, Facebook added a few temporary seasonal reactions and then in 2020, the permanent addition of the care reaction made its debut.
Despite that, I came to the conclusion that now I really don’t like Facebook reactions. It’s fine when someone reacts with a heart to photos from my latest vacation or concert, but there have been some events where it still led to confusion.
Exhibit A: A few years ago, I reposted a quote from a page about being single, stating that I didn’t need a man to be happy since I’m that kind of girl who would rather live her life and I will know the right person for me when he comes.
For some reason whenever I shared anything promoting how I enjoyed my single life and the freedom it gave me, there was this guy I met at a con who reacted “sad” to those things. Was he crushing on me and realized this meant he couldn’t be with me? I wasn’t interested in him that way but I was still unsure what he meant so I asked him why he kept reacting sad every time I posted something like that.
His answer only pissed me off when he was like:
I just find it disappointing that you like to share about how great your single life is but then you also post about all these fictional characters you love and you still don’t want a real relationship, were you hurt in the past?
Oh, I’m sorry does that bother you? I am happy in my current position and there is NOTHING wrong with having fictional crushes, yes it’s not the same as a real relationship but that’s my choice. This is also not the first time someone has gaslit me for this decision and that just is infuriating to the core, you have no idea.
Dating can be stressful but the comfort fictional characters bring, will never let you down! He unfriended me afterwards and it’s his loss! Like I said, I’m in no rush it all, it’s better to be alone than be with the wrong person just to say that you have something! Even if I was seeing someone, I would still have my fictional crushes because I will make sure that they do not impact the relationship, and everyone needs space from their partners from time to time so those characters can be that comfort if I need some me-time.
Exhibit B is more like tidbits of reactions that made no sense to me, like the times I’ve posted a positive comment on anything like an upcoming film that I’m looking forward to. Then suddenly someone reacts angry or amused and I’ll feel compelled to ask that person why in the hell are you mad or laughing at what I said? I’m being optimistic and that’s okay. Maybe you’re laughing because you hate that film and find it hilarious that there are actually people out there that enjoy it, well believe it or not, those people exist even if they are small in numbers. Or perhaps you’re infuriated because you see the film as a disgrace to the world of entertainment which also means you’re a hater with no life who takes it out on anyone who likes that said film and demonstrates those feelings via a comment.
Because we can’t “dislike” things on Facebook, reactions have perhaps become our only way of expressing that. I cannot fathom why people waste their time hating on things online in general. It’s like the time Madeline from the game Celeste told Theo how she copes with depression and it was the most unhealthy way ever, but that is another story and shall be told another time.
I’m glad there is no dislike button, my life outside the Internet is stressful enough and I would prefer to spend my time looking at positive things online. I’ve had people, even family members, warn me not to let my optimism cloud my judgement. Well, even if it does, I have made a choice and it is only mine to make. I don’t need to see who’s pissed that I don’t mosh or drink at metal concerts or who’s sad because I enjoy the freedom of single life while also fawning over aliens and rockstars. But at the same time, I also don’t want to know who dislikes me doing those things so I’m glad there is no dislike button, but I’m also displeased that Facebook reactions can still be used against people in a way.