Almost three years ago my best friend and her sister were tragically killed in a car accident. I don't remember finding out and I don't remember much of the days that followed but I do remember at some point, I wrote a Facebook status.
I don't remember why I did it specifically but after too many torturous emails and phone calls to tell friends the news, I knew it was the easiest way to break my silence and let a lot of people know that they were gone.
That status got almost 300 'likes'.
It got likes from friends who knew what had happened, friends who didn't and even people who had never met them. Liking my heartbroken status about the death of two twentysomething girls could be interpreted as a bit odd but you know what would be more odd? Disliking it.
Imagine the questions I would have had as those 'Dislikes' rolled in: are you disliking their death or my pain? Do you not like how I've worded my status or that I wrote it at all? Do you think I'm attention seeking or wish I hadn't told you this way?
So many potential questions and so much potential added negativity to a situation that should never be made any harder to bear.
During a Q&A session on Tuesday, C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook has begun working on implementing other alternatives to the 'Like' button. "I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years," he said. "Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we're working on it and shipping it."
The beauty of the 'Like' is that it stands for positivity. In a cyber world where we are all constantly putting ourselves out there to be scrutinised and even trolled by total strangers, a 'like' or a 'favourite' is a simple encouraging action that offers much joy to all. It can mean 'You're funny', 'I support this', 'You look fit', 'Well done', 'This is cool' and so much more. Indisputably, a 'Like' has alway stood for something positive.
Zuckerberg continued, "What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment...[In regards to death] people want to express that they understand and that they relate to you so I do think it's important to give people more options than 'like'."
But a 'Like' already is a moment of understanding. Of support. Of love. When people die, when people are taken too soon, no one knows what to say because there is absolutely nothing that makes any of it ok. But a 'Like' is a simple unobtrusive action that shows 'I'm here'.
A 'Dislike' will change all of that. Naturally, we will want to dislike death status' because naturally we dislike death but the last thing someone grieving needs is negativity or a reminder of how awful it all is. We do not need to be able to 'Dislike' death. We do not need negativity in death for that only makes the pain worse.
My status all those years ago, was a subconscious call to my Facebook family for positivity.
I wanted those 'Likes' not for self gratification, I wanted those likes because they stood for something good. They meant people were listening. They meant people cared about what was such a horrific tragedy. They meant that each person was thinking not of me, but of the girls- of their friendship and of their best and even last memories with them. And the 'Likes' from strangers were to me, a way of saying 'I will hold those I love a little closer tonight'.
Apparently instead of a 'Dislike' button we might get a 'Hug' button; with all the billions Zuckerberg is worth, he's a poor fool if he can't see that that is exactly what he's already built. With one button and one single word, he's already allowed the world to say so much. I hope it doesn't take a death for him to see the power in that.