Facebook on the button with 'sympathise' option.
I read with interest this week about the possibility of having a sympathise button on Facebook. The idea was discussed at a 'Facebook Hackathon'. A 'hackathon' is where software designers,graphic designers, computer programmers and interface designers get together to discuss new ideas. The new 'sympathy' button would enable friends and followers to show their 'sympathy' to someone if they had updated their status from a fixed list of emotions. This list is already in existence of course, I just love hearing how; brave, sad, ill, happy, exhausted, etc, etc, my facebook friends are. The only option at present is that you like the status to show an acknowledgement that you have read it, and care enough to press 'like'. I assume this action makes your sad, ill but happy and exhausted friends feel instantly better? The other option some people choose is to leave a comment saying, "unlike", this I feel, is just a lame cop out. The new proposal means that if you choose certain emotions and 'conditions' from the list in your status update, the 'like' button will be transformed into a 'sympathy' button.
I love the idea, how fantastic to be able to save yourself having to show true emotion to people you may never have actually met. In this world of internet communication, I'm not sure all people know how to interact effectively with face to face encounters anyway, so this could completely remove all those socially awkward moments.
The part of the idea I don't like is that the 'sympathy' button would only be available on certain emotions. I think it would be much more fun if you could offer your sympathy to someone when they announce their new relationship status with someone you really know they shouldn't be with. Or perhaps when your news feed is filled with status updates and pictures of what can only be described as the ugliest cabbage-patch-like baby you have ever seen. I would have hours of fun with that. (Although there may be an increase in those socially awkward moments should you ever see that person in real life? )
The thing that is slightly concerning though is why people would want to put things on Facebook, or any social networking site, that required sincere sympathy. Surely if you had lost your job, lost a loved one, had a terrible incurable medical condition or simply had a really ugly kid, you would save how you felt for those face to face interactions with people that genuinely care. I always think that if 'friends' hear about your personal triumphs and failures first on Facebook then they are not the type of true 'friends' to be sharing your intimate business with in the first place.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you view it, this is all highly academic at this point anyway as a spokesperson from 'Facebook' was quoted in the LA times earlier this week as saying, "Facebook holds hackathons all the time and countless features get created at these events, and a few of them get added to the company's website and apps.... but most of the features invented at Facebook hackathons don't ever make it to the final product."
Let us know your view.
Sophie Watts is our Chief Copy Writer.