September 20, 2015

Rachel Strella

The Facebook Button Doesn’t Matter, But This Does

facebook empathyThere’s been talk of a ‘dislike’ or ‘empathize’ button on Facebook.  I was not happy with the idea of a ‘dislike button,’ but I do think ‘empathize’ could be useful.

As people scroll through the feed, some will ‘like’ a status but very few comment. It’s said that between 70-90 percent of social media users are lurkers, which means that they are viewing the content, but not engaging with it any way.

This leads me to believe than ‘empathize’ button would aid engagement, because there are status updates that don’t fit the category of a ‘like’ (i.e. your dog dying), but the person viewing the status wants you to know they support you without having to comment on the feed. This is where an ‘empathize’ button comes in handy.

Whether it’s like, dislike, or empathize, the button doesn’t matter. I think the point to remember is that people are watching. Just because they don’t ‘like’ or comment on a post, doesn’t mean they don’t see it.

There are times I run into people ‘in real life’ (IRL) and they mention something I posted six months ago. I’m surprised because they never like or comment, so I assumed they didn’t know. But, they were watching.

Many of us share our life on Facebook – good, bad and ugly. And although we might say something in passing, it’s easy to forget that these posts are on display for the world to see.  We all get emotional and some of us want to tell the world what we experience.  I can think of a handful of instances where I probably shouldn’t have posted something that I did. In fact, there are times I actually deleted posts.  I try not to complain, unless I’m really upset about something and can’t help myself (a.k.a. Comcast). But, I try to put my best foot forward because ultimately, people will tune out the whiners.

However, I think that those who remain positive are seen as having the perfect life. There’s actually a term called Facebook envy, which is very real.  We post what we want the world to see and for most of us, we want to present ourselves in the best light possible, but sometimes that display is not reality.

In a world where we are told to be ourselves and remain authentic, it seems a struggle to share in a way that won’t reflect negatively, but shows we are human.

In fact, I would argue that Facebook is the most emotional of channels because we really do want to share with others. We long for support, compassion and comradery.

The distinction is sharing what’s appropriate, which is a gray area in an emotional-laden outlet such as Facebook.  It’s also very self-defined.  Would your grandmother, former teacher, and colleague react to a post in the same way? Probably not. But, it’s important to consider that they’re watching.

I would love your thoughts. How does emotion play a role in what you share? What ways do you keep yourself in check? Does it matter to you?


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles via

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3 comments on “The Facebook Button Doesn’t Matter, But This Does”

  1. A thought-provoking post, Rachel! I cringe at the thought of a "dislike" button going live. While it may help engagement to some degree, I think overall it's a terrible idea. I can't imagine many brands post anything that would warrant empathy, so I don't think it will be a big engagement booster for businesses. I see a dislike button predominantly being used person to person. And I predict it will not only be a tool for showing compassion, but for mean-spiritedness as well. There will be haters "disliking" posts that share others' successes and good news.

    Personally, I tend to post things that reflect the positive and fun in life. And that's pretty much how I operate in real life, too. If I'm sad, mad, in pain, or ill, I tend to not air it publicly. My life is way far from perfect and I realize that others who have a similar social media M.O. to mine don't have perfect lives either. But with a dislike button readily available for bitter folks to express animosity all too easily, I fear it will be open season for subtle forms of cyberbullying.

    1. I feel the same way about the button, Dawn. I think it will only feed the trolls! And I'm with you on posting positive life news. You're a positive force and I really admire you!

  2. […] her recent blog post, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media shares, “I try to put my best foot forward because […]

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