Thursday, August 29, 2013

So Much Depends on a Little Red Plus Sign

Most social networks have a method by which you can show your approval of a post. Whether it is "plussing" on G+, "liking" on Facebook, "favoriting" a post on Twitter, pushing/trusting/liking on Sulia, and pinning and/or heart'ing on Pinterest you have a way of saying "I approve of this." The problem is, there is no way of adding why you approve of a post, and I want to break down why I give things this silent mark of approval:


  • I may like your post because I believe the same thing, word for word. This is the damn for me, although it seems it is the one that folks always assume is meant when you plus.
  • I may favorite your tweet because I am glad you said a thing, whether I agree or not. I may just believe that your thought needs to be out there in the ether. I believe in fostering intelligent dialog when possible.
  • You and I may be friends, so I plus your stuff that makes sense in order to encourage you to express yourself. 
  • I may appreciate the opportunity to see a product or idea. Maybe I did not even know it existed until you posted it.
  • I may pin something just because it is pretty or suits my aesthetics.
  • Maybe you posted something that took skill or bravery to post and I noticed.
  • Sometimes I may actively disagree with a post, but appreciate the way something was said. Maybe it was an innovate way of looking at the issue, or had a personal touch that made the post evocative. Maybe it was just damn good writing. This goes back to fostering intelligent dialog when possible.
  • Maybe you were just damn funny and I lol'ed.
  • Every once in a while, I will fat-finger a post and plus/like/pin something I did not mean to. You know what I mean, you are looking at one thing and press the button you think will favorite your target but instead you ended up "liking" something horrible. Sometimes, it takes someone pointing it out to find out that it even happened. This is the most rare of cases, and I will immediately correct, if possible, when asked about it. Because I am a grown-up and can admit I screwed up.
  • Liking/+1'ing are good ways to keep track of a post as it develops. I may just want to see what happens next...
I bet you experience this problem: someone sees that you put your stamp of approval on one thing a person wrote and now you are responsible for everything that person ever wrote, ever. There are a lot of reasons to stamp someone's post, but people will usually assume that you did it for whatever reason makes them the most angry. I ask first before I assume, and it is my opinion that other folks should ask first too. We should not let assumptive, aggressive anger overrule common sense. 

On most services such as G+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Sulia you can undo your stamp of approval. Usually you can just click the same button again, the label on the button usually changes to reflect this functionality, but not in every case. If you no longer wish to have approved a post, a group, or a person - you can change your approval status to reflect that, to a degree. I rather like Buzzfeed's method of giving the user several adjectives to choose from to voice an opinion on a piece.