When I was first told that Twitter was completely getting rid of the “like” feature, the next words to leave my mouth were quite literally, “That’s a mood.”
I immediately hated myself.
I didn’t get my first smartphone until 2015. Throughout high school, I was regularly told that the green of my text messages was unwelcome on the iMessage screens of my peers and that I would never find a college roommate because there was no digital trace of me. Though I could have created various social media accounts through an iPod or computer, I felt as though my chipped, barely functional LG enV3 stood as more than just a physical barrier to entry. I decided I was unwelcome in the 21st century, and though it was self-righteous and blatantly untrue, it was what I wanted for myself. I prefer low commitment and low-stress relationships. At 16, social media was neither of those.
Not owning a smartphone gave me the excuse to shield myself from the expectations of the internet age. Unfortunately, Verizon eventually threatened to charge my mother an additional $70 per month to keep my phone on our plan and I was forced to join the rat race. Within days, I reopened my long forgotten Snapchat, set-up a Facebook account and eventually made a Twitter. To give an update after almost four years—although I have fewer than 30 tweets, I still spend approximately 65% of my battery usage on Twitter. I’m a virtual ghost. I would say that it’s complicated, but everything I’ve written so far has been obnoxious and far too much a trope for me to not acknowledge, so I’ll bring it back to the issue at hand: the executive team at Twitter.
Social media has evolved to be the ultimate influencer and is ingrained in our daily means of communication. Drastically changing an essential function of one of the world’s most heavily used platforms is a big deal, even if it doesn’t seem like it on the surface.
Eliminating the “like” button and only leaving users the option to retweet is honestly sinful. Retweets are statements—they show the world your thoughts and endorsements. A retweet equals support. On the other hand, a “like” is the retweet’s soft-spoken cousin. Whereas special occasions or all-consuming love for the Tweeter are often the only predecessors to a retweet, a “like” is as casual as hookup culture at Penn.
Taking away this choice will be limiting to the Twitter community. Twitter users take a gamble when liking a tweet, as although there’s a high chance that the algorithm shows your “like” activity to a few followers, your personal brand will likely go untarnished by exposing your continued interest in UberFacts. If users are only offered the option to retweet, they will either respond by inundating their feeds with too much content or by not interacting at all. As a social media ghost, it will be personally devastating to lose my only means of subtle contact with the virtual world.
Twitter is certainly not a hub for meaningful interactions, but it is a platform that many users rely on for news, opinions and overall discourse. By limiting the means of interaction, the overall quality of these engagements is drastically reduced. I don’t have the willpower to delete my Twitter account even if they decide to delete the “like” feature, but it will force me to revert back to some of my more reclusive social media habits. Although I’m sure my grades would appreciate it, I’ve become quite fond of Twitter and would prefer it stay the way it is (minus the hate speech). Twitter has yet to confirm or deny the rumors but has stated that any potential changes would not occur in the near future and were merely in their early stages.