Facebook, dislike button, prejudice, body image, social media

Isn’t there enough hate in this world already?

Okay. So unless you’re one of those increasingly rare people who rallies against social media, you’re probably going to be a lover of Facebook. Over the last 12 years, it has grown from a simple social site designed to communicate with friends and family to a gargantuan universe of information, news, communication, interests, and entertainment. I’m the first to admit that I’m kind of (definitely) addicted.

Now, we’re all very familiar with the ‘Like’ button. Back in the day, it was called the ‘Become a Fan’ button (aah, memories). The great thing about Facebook is that you can tell everyone what makes you tick (even the stuff nobody wants to know about)and edit your life to appear as it suits you. But like most bright, shiny things, we’ve grown increasingly wary with the simplicity of it all, so for a few years now, people have been clamouring for a ‘Dislike’ button. Something to inform everyone that they are thoughtful, discerning people whose intelligence extends far beyond the realms of merely liking everything.

But is the ‘Dislike’ button just a distant dream; a coveted but ultimately unrealistic extension of our already overwhelming web of communication? According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it is most definitely not unrealistic. This month, Zuckerberg confirmed a ‘Dislike’ button is indeed in the works.

Zuckerberg delivering a keynote speech in Silicon Valley.

Zuckerberg delivering a keynote speech in Silicon Valley.

“People have asked about the Dislike button for many years. We’ve finally heard you and we’re working on this and we will deliver something that meets the needs of the larger community,” Zuckerberg told Bloomberg.

Sounds great, right? It’s ultimate freedom of speech; a legitimised opinion for everyone. However, the fact that everyone can have an opinion means that, well, everyone can have an opinion. Including every bigot, homophobe, misogynist, misandrist, and jerk. And with cyber bullying already so prevalent in social media among all ages and all genders, it’s a wonder Zuckerberg is encouraging this by making negative reactions just that little bit easier to express.

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So why exactly could a ‘Dislike’ button prove unhealthy and dangerous? Here are three excellent reasons:

1. Cyber bullying, especially among teens

Let’s face it; the teenage mind is a murky battlefield full of land mines and hidden demons. It is dangerously malleable, and negative influences can have devastating consequences. Think of what teenagers post about; their relationships, their achievements, and above all, their photos. A ‘Dislike’ button on any of these is an easy avenue for bullies to execute subtle psychological torture.

2. Body image

Speaking of photos; let’s address the glaringly obvious issue of self-image. A ‘Dislike’ button on photos will lead to an even more appallingly heightened  paranoia about what we look like. Multiple dislikes on a photo we were once proud of, augmented by media pressure to adhere to certain standards of attractiveness (especially in women) is a slippery slope leading straight to the world of eating disorders and depression.

3. Destructive ideologies

I’m all for freedom of speech, but it’s our responsibility as human beings to make sure we execute it in a constructive manner. Whilst some people are capable of biting their tongue (or fingertips) when expressing views that may seriously offend, others don’t know the consequences of prejudice, fear mongering, or bullying.

That, or they don’t care.

A ‘Dislike’ button is likely to encourage the spread of racism, misogyny, misandry, extremism, homophobia, and a myriad of other prejudices. And with just a staggeringly simple, scarily speedy click of a button. In a world where tensions are already running high, another path to prejudice should not be facilitated.

Come on, Facebook. You’ve got enough going for (and against) you. Is there really any need to gild the already frighteningly fabricated lily?

 Image via Check-and-secure.com and socialappshq.com.