Thumbs up or heart?
It may be tempting fate for a blog to play down the importance of words. And sometimes people bemoan the “like like like” culture of social media. It’s all so impersonal, they say, it’s too easy just to click the heart button. On Instagram, if you get a certain number of likes, you get on the popular page, or whatever they call it now, whereupon your like numbers go astronomical. In the mobile photo sharing world, I was intrigued to see that a new kid on the block, 500px, not only allows you to heart (or like) a photo, it also gives you the option of giving a photo a “thumbs-up”. Which got me thinking. Could you heart a photo but not thumbs-up it? Or the other way round? If you heart it, are you saying that it gets you right there, that it moves you? But if you don’t also give it a thumbs-up, are you saying, OK, it moved me but - you just got lucky. But if you just give it a thumbs up without the heart, are you saying, yeah, nice technique, cool effect, but it doesn’t really move me. Or perhaps there’s a system I don’t know about. Maybe a thumbs-up is worth half a heart. Or to use a golf analogy, perhaps you can have the right idea for a shot but you just execute it poorly (like many of my putts), in which case you get a heart but not a thumbs up. And don’t get me started on all the other emoticons. Is it good when someone gives you that classic combination of a smiley, a clapping hand and flamenco dancer?
But there is a serious point to hearting a photo. Sometimes words can’t do justice to how you feel about an image. It’s not that you haven’t got the time or the inclination to find the words to express why you like a photo. Sometimes it feels like trying to put your feelings into words would somehow diminish or limit your own feelings about it. I know this because I was asked to do some judging in a competition, Photobox’s Motographer of the Year, and you have to give a comment to each of your decisions. I quite like analysing a photo and saying why I think it’s good, but I sometimes read back my words and I think, yes, it is a good composition and I love that colour and that expression on that man’s face is great, but, I also just, well, like it, with my heart. And thumbs.
Sometimes a smiley is worth a thousand words (featuring fellow App Whisperer columnist, Dilshad, aka @italianbrother).