I am going to write about a rather worrying trend. The whole story started with the rise of social media. This includes all sites where the use of emoticons is increasingly important. The flag-bearer of these is currently Facebook and the political content therein.
What is wrong with all this? One of the main ones is that it forces people's reactions, which are relatively wide ranging, into a few simplistic 'emotion' templates. It's more or less a 'like it, dislike it' category, which is only partially mitigated by further refinement of likeability with the heart button. But there is only 1 icon for laughing, for example, and it makes a difference whether someone laughs with you or at you, doesn't it? Long years have passed and you can read articles galore about how former FB employees talk with horror about all the things the company has done to humanity. Yes, they said that. They were that serious. You could say, " this is not the baby they wanted." Okay, but it turned out that way and they have no idea how to get out of it.
Social media practically coaches consumers to respond to certain topics at all and exactly how. I have been trying for years to will myself away from reflexively clicking on these icons because it makes me feel like Pavlov's dog.
I push the button, I get the treat.
That's what the system is designed for and I'm not going to do it voluntarily until I have to. It is important to highlight once again: it is not the entertainment or educational content, but the manipulative, speculative content that is causing the trouble here, and politicians are using this new tool relentlessly.
Unfortunately, people are easily manipulated and our politicians know this all too well. They will take any opportunity to make some kind of profit out of it and after a while you will willingly do what you have been programmed to do. Without you even being aware of it.
People, having no other means left, try to punish others with laughter icons, but this becomes so reflexive and natural for some that it is completely out of touch with real human reactions and contributes greatly to further alienating people from each other. (as if there were not enough other ways to do this)