Nearly all of us share something online, be it twitter LinkedIn Facebook WhatsApp etc. Whether it’s your coffee, dinner, family party, links to a blog post, news article, environmental or political commentry, etc. We share, and that’s fine.

Continuing from my last post about how I and you use those platforms, this is a post how we are seen to be using them.

When I share a link or article I’ll usually try and change the default tweet/share title to something that is more like my style. That will also give me the opportunity to explain why this is important enough to shared, and for you to understand why I shared it too. What part of the content am I interested in, should you be interested, do I agree with the sentiment in the article or am I being critical. Heck, am I being sarcastic and mocking it? I can answer ‘yes’ to all of the above, probably on a daily basis!

Here’s the thing. If you follow me online you will see a notification in your feed when I ‘like’ something. Even if you see the ‘like’ you won’t know what that is supposed to mean. Do I actually ‘like’ it or saving for later or something else? What it might actually mean is ‘I’m saving this for later to read properly’. The ‘like’ also gives the author/originator a false economy on the ‘success’ of their post. The ‘like’ is also a mechanism for seeing (this is what the algorithms are interested in) my history, what I read and what, again, is important to me and building a picture of me and then serving content based on this. Even if it’s not.

Example – what do I read into a situation, or am supposed to read into a situation, when a friend ‘like’s an article about toxic workplace culture, immature leadership, ineffective management, good practice at interviews, CV writing, etc? Does it mean they relate to this because they’re suffering here? Is the content important to them because they even believe they work in or actually the leaders in this environment? Should I ask if everything’s alright? See, the simple share is a world of hurt being opened up.

What if my work colleagues ‘like’ the same kind of content? Does this mean they think of their environment, and by association my working environment, as being toxic, immature, ineffective, bullying, abusive, etc? Have I missed something, are the undertones and whispered conversations hiding something from me … heck, is it me? Should I confront it, should I pass it to others and gauge their response … ??

Context. The simple ‘like’ has no context, not is it an accurate reflection of how people use it. It can be misunderstood, exaggerated, abused, and at worse. This is why I really lamented the loss of the Twitter ‘favourite’ (even though many didn’t use it as a ‘favourite’ either, but that’s another story). But at least that title wasn’t quite so open to confusion as ‘like’.

What we should have is a ‘sentiment’ option. A series of options beyond the superficial ‘like’ would be more useful, something that actually reflect the sentiment I’m feeling to the shared content. You could argue that Facebook did it with the ‘like, ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’, ‘angry’, but that doesn’t really work for me either. It does, however, work on a social, informal platform like Facebook. Kinda, but still not to my liking.

What about LinkedIn? I see they’ve recently added a kind of ‘sentiment’ analysis of ‘like’, ‘celebrate’, ‘love’, ‘insightful’, and ‘curious’. This isn’t the kind of feedback I want to give on something I consider important, something that may reflect my professional online persona. I want to know more about your sentiment on the content I share in the same way I want to give more relevant feedback to those who author the content I share. I would rather have something along the lines of:

  • ‘ I value this’
  • ‘I agree with this’
  • ‘I don’t agree with this’
  • ‘I question this’ – and a mechanism for a follow-up explanation on why I don’t understand this?
  • ‘I dont’ understand this’ – and a mechanism for a follow-up explanation on why I don’t understand this?

This would make the ‘like’ and ‘curious’ flags far more interesting and relevant to me, and how I view your activity online.

Image source: davide ragusa on Unsplash