Twitter switches to hearts and kills love

Today, Twitter switched from stars to hearts and stuck another stake into the heart of love.

I'm disappointed in their lack of originality as they become yet another company adding to the continued dilution of love. Iconography and common language are wonderful but the heart has become so overloaded that it's lost all meaning. What should be reserved for something truly special has been reduced to a ubiquitous and thoughtless click. This is bad because when we reduce a single word or image to cover such a broad variety of feelings, we are effectively killing our ability to express ourselves in a nuanced way.

The vocabulary and the images to articulately voice our feelings exist. We need to choose to use them. So, let's challenge ourselves to move beyond love and like. I can't help but think of a quote from the Anne of Green Gables series where an old lady expresses her distaste for how to use the word "love".

"You love it.  Does that mean that you really love it? Or that you merely like the looks of it? The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one never can tell what they do mean. It wasn't so in my young days. Then a girl did not say she loved turnips, in just the same tone as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior."

Today, three great examples of companies who do new things are Slack's emoji reactions, Pocket's "Add to Pocket" and Pinterest's "Pin It". They represent real world actions, evoke images and are expressive. There are so many more interesting verbs and images that we can use in apps and websites that are broadly understood, convey a range of feelings and aren't overloaded. In that spirit, here are some examples of new icons and verbs that we might consider:

  1. fashion/e-commerce: when we "save" or "love" or "like" items of clothing, it's typically because we think they'll look good when we wear them.
    • verbs: hang it up, try it on
    • icons: hangers, a dress, a shirt, an item of clothing, a dressing room, a mirror
  2. journalism/photography: when we "love" a great Instagram picture or an article that someone's written, we want to express our appreciation for effort.
    • verbs: give kudos, thank, pat on the back, praise, acknowledge, applaud
    • icons: gold stars, blue ribbons, thumbs up, hand clap
  3. social media: when we "love" or "like" a post, it can be because we think that something's funny or to express sympathy or just to say that we're thinking of someone;
    • verbs: laugh, smile, hug
    • icons: kiss, hug, table-flip

I'm not saying that any of the examples above are perfect and can be used as-is. They need to be tailored to reflect the products, the services and the actions that we want users to take. If companies truly want to enhance engagement and make users care enough to use them regularly, they need to evoke real feelings. Human beings are far more complex than just people who love. In a single hour, we can go from from grouchy to jealous to angry to sympathetic. On a day to day basis, our feelings are interesting and rich and the products we use should represent that.

Let's give love meaning again.