“Hey, Mark!” Julie called, as he walked past her. “Can I bug you for a second?”
“I’m not in any hurry,” Mark responded, smiling. “What’s up?”
“Well, you know the ‘like’ button?” she offered, falling into step with her boss.
“Sure,” Mark grinned. “People poke that thing about a billion times a day. It’s awesome!”
“Agreed,” Julie nodded. “I just wondered if we could make it a little more interactive. You know a lot of people post stories to Facebook that are tragic or even heart rending and we’ve had a lot of complaints that people feel self-conscious about clicking the ‘like’ button for fear that the person in question is going to think they are happy the person is having a hard time.”
“Oh,” Mark replied, blinking in astonishment. “Weird. Any thoughts?”
“As a matter of fact,” Julie smiled, picking her pace up, “I have. Come with me.”
Mark followed Julie to her office, where he saw that Skype was open on her computer.
“Check this out,” said Julie, seating herself before the computer. She clicked a smiley face at the bottom right side of the screen and a selection of emojis appeared.
“This isn’t anything new,” Mark objected. “We have stickers, too.”
“I know,” Julie agreed. “The problem with that, though, is that there are pages and pages of stickers to choose from. Not everyone wants to flip through pages of stickers to find the right one. What I’m suggesting will streamline things a bit. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway.”
Mark leaned over to prop himself on the desk.
Quickly, Julie clicked several emojis: a thumbs up, a heart, a laughing face, a blushing smile, a surprised face, a sad face and an angry face. As she hit send, the emojis popped up on the screen and began to move.
“I’m pretty sure these are the only ones we’ll need,” she suggested. “And we can mark them in as many languages as possible so that people will know what they’re for.”
“Won’t this clutter the screen?” Mark worried.
“We can fix it so that they only pop up when the user hovers over the like button,” Julie replied.
“I don’t know, Jules,” Mark hedged, “I kind of like things the way they are.”
“Are you telling me that the greatest social innovator of our time is afraid to take a risk?” Julie prodded.
“It’s not that,” Mark retorted, standing up and beginning to pace the office. “I just don’t like the idea of using someone else’s stickers.”
“That’s okay,” Julie smiled. “This is just where I got the idea. We can design our own icons and make them move in whatever way we want.”
Mark frowned, considering. “Tell you what. Write me up a proposal and I’ll consider it.”
“On it,” Julie nodded, closing out Skype and opening up her word processing program.
Mark left the office, Julie’s suggestion ricocheting around inside his head. He walked briskly to his own office and turned his computer on. Clicking the browser button, it opened immediately on Facebook, his masterpiece. Quickly, he scanned through his feed, searching for… Ah! Here was a news item about a person who had lost their job. Apparently, his boss had tried to get him to sleep with her and, when he’d refused, she had fired him. The post had over thirty supportive comments but only six likes. In addition, some of the commenters seemed to have felt that they needed to explain why they had chosen to click the “like” button.
He spent all that day and much of the next sorting through posts just like the first one. Over and over, the pattern was repeated. A low number of “likes” but lots and lots of comments, many of them apologizing for “liking” the post. He was in the middle of reading yet another such post when there was a knock on his office door.
“Come in!” he snapped.
The door opened a crack and Julie’s hazel eyes peered around the edge. “You okay, boss?” Julie asked, hesitantly.
“Jules,” Mark sighed, rubbing his temples with his fingers. “Sorry. I just feel so stupid. How could I have missed this for so long? Do you have that proposal?”
She plopped a manila folder onto his desk.
Mark opened it and took a look. Julie had been very thorough. Here were demographics, charts, potential designs for the new icons and loads more.
“We’ll need to spend some time developing it so it works properly,” Julie offered. “I’m not even sure I have every situation covered, but I think…”
“This is brilliant, Jules,” Mark responded, sifting through the proposal again. “Call a meeting, okay? I want you to present this to the entire team. The sooner we can roll this out the better.”
Again, I know this post is under the limit of 1200 words. It just felt right to end it here. I also want to thank everyone who has waited all this time for me to post a new story. Thank you for your patience.