A few months ago, in the second issue of the Ming Pao column which I co-authored with Dr Benjamin Au Yeung, I wrote that the emergence of words like “unlike” and “unfriend” on Facebook might reflect people’s shrinking sense of commitment to other people and things. One moment, they declared their liking for something, at the touch of a button; the next moment, with equal ease, they could unlike what they had liked. “Why do they have functions such as ‘unlike’ and ‘unfriend’ on Facebook?” I challenged.
Today, I found a real necessity for the function “unlike”. After the CALL class today, I logged on to Facebook on my iPhone. One of the new postings was from Nettie, who reported that she was having a low blood sugar level. I checked the posting time for the message: it was three hours before. In other words, it began 30 minutes before Nettie came to class, and she had been sitting through the session with the possibility of passing out any minute.
I wanted to send her a comment to thank her for making the effort to come to class despite her condition. So I flicked the screen of my iPhone, pressed the “+” sign on the right, and hit “Comment”; only that I had actually hit “Like”. When I checked Nettie’s posting again, I felt embarrassed as I was the first one and the only one who ‘liked’ her condition; but how could I possibly ‘like’ Nettie’s having a low blood glucose level! Now, I desperately needed to write a comment, to explain what I had really meant.
I hit the ‘+’ button on the right of the iPhone, and voila, there on the left was the ‘Unlike’ option! I hit it immediately, checked Nettie’s posting again, and the “like” had gone. So, ‘unlike’ had saved the day.
Now I have to revise my earlier stance: there are times when we need to “unlike” something we have liked by accident.