Wednesday, November 04, 2015

I Don't *Star* Your *Heart*

Last night while I slept, my world had changed without me even realising. I woke up with the same local star shining its light, my beautiful wife warm beside me and my darling child dreaming of an endless field of clothing tags waving in the warm sun, everything she loves.

I got up, got dressed, missed my wife goodbye and headed out to work, just like any other morning.

Then, it happened.

I opened Twitter, started reading and noticed something odd. The little Star under tweets, beside the retweet button had become a little Heart. I was immediately curious.

Had I slipped into a nearby dimension where the only noticable difference was this graphic? No. Others had noticed the change too.

Did it have the same function as the old Star, or did it do something new and magical? No. Apart from a fancy animation (all 24 frames!) it fills the same roll. And that's where my problem lies.

I have and do star things that I particularly like, but 99% of those are friends sharing something from their own lives that I'm happy about. It might be a photo of their baby or something good happening at work or in their lives. Rarely have I ever starred something from a celebrity to represent just liking what they said or posted.

I often catch up on Twitter on the way to or from work, sitting on the bus, barely awake. Because of that, I most often use the Star button as method of bookmarking tweets for later. They might be videos I want to watch at home on a bigger screen, articles I want to read in comfort, or something I want to look at in depth.

The Star is fine for this. It acts as a neutral icon that represents something shiny that I find interesting or noteworthy, but also, it can just be something to catch my attention. It's equivalent to a star drawn on the back of my hand, or a string on my finger; a generic icon to remind me of something I need to watch read.

But a Heart is different. It represents love or admiration. If I Heart a tweet about an article on lack of funding for school age children with autism, do I now like that those children and families are not getting help or support? Of course not! I remember starring a tweet linking to an article on polluted beaches in Ireland one summer and accidentally upsetting a friend who thought I was taking pleasure in not living there, or having clean beaches near me. I wasn't. I was on the bus, on my mobile, wanting to read the full article later in the evening. My friend understood when I explained myself, but how much worse would it have looked it I had had to click on the Heart instead?

Why change it? The Star was fine. The Heart is, as a symbol, fine too. But as a feature in the way I use it, the Star is vastly superior.

Tell you what, Twitter, give me a seperate Bookmark button and I'll be happy. Then I can Heart things I like and Bookmark things I want to read more of later. Sorted.

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