What if Facebook had created “The Respect Button”?

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What if Justin Rosenstein, the creator of the Facebook Like button, had created the respect button instead?

“Like” can be used as a preposition, a conjunction, noun, verb, adverb. It’s one of those words that can be used in many ways. As a noun it means ”preference.” In social media its used to express emotion. For many people these days it’s an expression of popularity.

But what if respect was the emotion that was voted on across social media? “Respect” as a noun means a deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements.  

My father always told me when I was in those horrible hormonal teenage years - you don’t always have to be liked by everyone but it’s important to be respected. Lets say that again – you don’t need to be liked by everyone!! The like button has created an either or situation.  If you don’t like it, it must mean you dislike it.  Like /dislike go hand in hand with the origin of Facebook, Hot or Not. Fortunately, because my Dad imparted this wisdom to me, there are a lot of people I have total respect and admiration for and am willing to go the extra mile for because well, they have earned my respect and whether I like them or not is irrelevant. 

So lets think about this further. The market cap of Facebook is around $580 billion dollars – a company founded on the premise of Hot or Not, Like or Dislike.  Their “like” concept commands more value than products that you can touch and feel with your own hands, products that get you places like sneakers, cars and planes, products which ultimately allow you to have the in- person relationships that are sorely missing today.

It’s not so difficult then to make the leap and understand why more and more studies show that there is an emotional health crisis with our kids. If your world is centered around likes or dislikes and not tangible things then how deep can you develop relationships with others? Mankind has survived this far on deep social bonds – relationships that comfort and connect each other – not likes and dislikes. Which is why according to a study released last week by the National Association of Elementary School Principals entitled “The Pre-k – 8 School Leader in 2018: A 10 year Study” the number one concern of principals was “the increase in the numbers of students with emotional problems” and number two “mental health issues.” In 2008 emotional problems was only ranked 8th. 

So how do we start chipping away at the “like” culture and start valuing people and relationships based on respect? It starts small and it starts with you. Its starts by giving comfort to those who need it and connecting in authentic ways. It means you need to stop worrying about the likes you are going to get and start looking out for your friend or family member who is lonely or hurting. It means listening to your friend or family member, being present for them and with them. It means not being too busy “on your phone” to be there for them. 

So the next time you are about to hit the “like” button think about your follow up plan to reach out in-person with a phone call to that friend or family member.  Let them know in an authentic way what you value about them in their abilities, qualities or achievements. Let’s make respect, comfort and connection the new “like”. 

Jill Bornstein is the Co – Founder & CFO of Inspiring Comfort. Learn more about how you can comfort and connect with others at  www.inspiringcomfort.com