The Five Hearts

You, possibly, when faced with the array of options below every damn post on social media.

A superfluity of options

As a designer, I know there are a number of things I want someone to do when they see a post. As a customer, there’s a different set, but they overlap.

  1. Feedback: Nice job! (Send feedback to the author)
  2. Share: My friends should see this!
  3. Guide: I want to see more things like this.
  4. Bookmark: I want to read this / remember for later
  5. Weigh in: I agree with this; or see below.

We need to go…deeper

Each of these atoms has some variation and detail, too, and sometimes the detail makes you use the tool a little differently.

  1. The spectrum [endorse … agree … disagree … consider harmful]: I have an opinion, which might include “this is awesome”, “this is problematic”, “this is hate speech”, “this is spam”, and everything between. Facebook canonized this a while ago with the reaction-faces, because “Like”ing someone’s funeral notice seemed a bit crude.
  2. Directed vs. Broadcast vs. For the Admins: I want the author to know my thoughts; or my friends; or everyone; or possibly I want to talk to the moderators. It’s rarer to give users control over this directly, though Twitter recently has started letting you pretend to talk to to the algorithm. (I have my suspicion it’s the Door Close button of the internet, however.)


There’s a second set, which involve further communication:

  1. Respond: I want to respond to the author directly.
  2. Quote: I want to comment on this where my friends can see.
  3. Follow: I want to further engage with the author, or with this stream of content.
  4. $$$: I want to support the author (financially, or other means)

You’re confused because it’s confusing

And so we’re left with the combination of a nicely complicated social world. Human society is complex, and rightly so, and so these attempts to simplify it to a handful of controls necessarily flatten out interesting wrinkles.



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Alex Feinman

Alex Feinman


Obligate infovore. All posts made with 100% recycled electrons, sustainably crafted by artisanal artisans. He/him/his.