I <3 Frivolity: Why I Like “Likes,” Even If I’m the Only One

Today Twitter made a small but significant change: It swapped the star-shaped “favorite” button for a heart-shaped “like” in an attempt to make the platform more welcoming to newcomers. Twitter users promptly lost their minds, which was really to be expected given that Twitter users (myself included) lose their minds on a pretty regular basis.

The reactions from accounts I follow generally ranged from neutral curiosity to outrage. Most people seem to think it’s unnecessary “dude-fussing” at best, and a catastrophe at worst. Gizmodo put up a guide to replacing it, which at least one person in my feed immediately used to bring back the star. In short, no one really likes the heart.

Well, that’s not quite true. I like the heart.

Don’t get me wrong; I recognize that A) change is uncomfortable and B) a star and a heart communicate very different things. I can understand the argument that, as Osman Faruqi writes for The Guardian, changing the symbol changes the way people use Twitter to communicate:

[Twitter is an] infrastructure for basic communication, which is why people are so upset over the change to hearts: imagine if, instead of saying “OK” on the phone to a relative stranger, you were forced to say “I love you”. It’s that basic.

And maybe I’ll come to agree with him. For now, though, I’m stuck on one simple thought: The heart is really pretty charming. I love the color yellow, but there’s just something cheerful about having tiny pink and red hearts scattered all over my notifications. It’s like Valentine’s Day every day, and we’ve already established that I love Valentine’s Day.

Look, the heart even explodes into tiny fireworks when you tap it:

It’s frivolous and silly, yes. But I’m of the opinion that the world needs more frivolity, not less. I’m the girl who brought a glittery skull to work to decorate for Halloween. I’m excited about Christmas because it means putting up twinkly lights and shiny ornaments. I admit that I’m easily distracted by sparkly things, but I don’t think this is necessarily a flaw.

Twitter can be a gloomy place. There are a lot of people venting their frustrations and getting upset about things that are legitimately upsetting. And that’s part of what makes Twitter great! I love that there are so many people on Twitter who are engaged in important discussions about things like social justice. But I also know that even when I’m just watching these discussions happen, they can wear me down. That goes double when I’m actually participating in them. It’s kind of nice, in all that, to have something that’s just happy.

Maybe I’m buying into Twitter’s sales pitch here. At The Mary Sue, Maddy Myers makes the case that Twitter is counting on people having exactly my reaction:

The alteration of a star to a red heart, as well as the phrase “like” — all of that encourages a sense of put-on positivity, rather than reflection or thoughtfulness. It reminds me of all the people who tell me I should “be more positive” instead of talking about systemic issues or harassment.

That’s fair. I would much rather have Twitter work on improving their harassment policies so that people feel safe on the platform. And it’s not as if I was unsatisfied with the star, whereas I am unsatisfied with the company’s apparent inability to get a grip on things like spambots and trolls. But as long as Twitter’s most vocal users don’t take the heart as a reason to stop pushing for bigger, more powerful changes—and there’s no reason to think that they will—I see no point in fighting against a change that, in my opinion, makes the site just a little bit brighter.

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