We recently caught word that Facebook engineers created a “sympathize” button at a hackathon. The idea is that when someone posts something sad, the experimental button would transform from the Like button, giving friends a way to express condolences on posts where a thumbs up would appear callous.
Facebook isn’t actively pursuing the project, but a spokesperson said, “Some of our best ideas come from hackathons, and the many ideas that don’t get pursued often help us think differently about how we can improve our service.”
So the social network has no plans to implement the sympathize button, but perhaps this project will inspire Facebook to give us more options for commenting on pictures and posts.
Facebook users eager to demoralize their digital peers have petitioned for a dislike button for years, but there are a few more buttons the Facebook team should introduce first—and a sympathetic button would be low on the priority pole. After all, for every one person lamenting their Greek tragedy of a life on the Internet, there are dozens of other people engaging in behavior that infuriates or delights you without activating your sad glands.
Here are seven essential buttons Facebook should introduce.
The Love button
As wise sage Larisa Oleynik noted in 10 Things I Hate About You, “I like my Sketchers, but I love my Prada backpack.” Sometimes “like” is a ridiculously insufficient qualifier to express your gushy, undying, incontrovertible passion, be it for a tacky designer backpack, someone’s status update, or, you know, a human.
Example status: “I finally just met my birth mom!”
The WTF button
Sometimes it’s kinder to let someone know that they’re not making a lick of goddamn sense. And for that, we should have the WTF button.
Example status: “Does anyone else feel like their dog has dreams about them too?”
The Check Your Facts button
Sometimes people appear to be stating something logical (or at least coherent) but they have bad information. A “Check Your Facts” button could come in very handy for the 9/11 truther or vaccine protester in your life.
Example status: “I bet you guys didn’t know this but every time you bleach your hair the government is inserting tracers into your brain.”
The Vehemently Disagree, But Don’t Want to Get Into It Here button
Did your grumpy cousin on the opposite side of the political spectrum somehow put into words the exact opposite of a thing you believe? Don’t let your rage make you do something you regret, like get into a drawn-out, futile Facebook comment fight (in which everyone looks bad, no one looks good, and you end up mad and fighting back tears in front of your keyboard, a bad look for anyone). Just click this button to let them know how you feel without starting an interminable war of the words in a public forum.
Example status: “Obama wanted to take away your healthcare because he hates white people. Look it up.”
The Edit button
Facebook allows users to edit their own posts, but who would object to a button that allows users to fix the grammar and spelling errors of their friends? The days of seeing comments like “not to be rude but it’s YOU’RE” would be behind us. Grammar defenders wouldn’t suffer near-aneurysms from visiting the pages of less precise friends. People with terrible spelling skills could avoid embarrassment, and edit notifications could help them learn from their mistakes. Miniature American flags for everyone!
Example status: “OMG your so stoopid if u think american idol is cool.”
The Custom button
Of course, a button allowing a customized sentiment would be particularly fun. In the past, Facebook curtailed the amount of customization it allowed, fearing the aesthetic nightmare that MySpace became when users we’re given too many options (ode to glitter GIFs, right?). But giving users more control in this case won’t do anything to damage how a Timeline looks, and it allows for maximum creativity.
Example status: [Insert literally any status here.]
The Buy button
Facebook doesn’t really have anything to gain from adding new buttons. It already has a scary-vast user base, and the addition of this sort of button probably won’t be the tipping point for people leaving the service or discovering it. There is one button, however, that could be a big boon for Facebook: a “buy” button. Setting up a way for companies to peddle their products and services with a single click, a la the iTunes store, could be a lucrative move for Facebook.
Example status: “Check out my new home kegerator!”