The “Newspeak” of Facebook Reactions

Hurtling toward the loss of language?

Annie Holmquist | February 24, 2016

Hurtling toward the loss of language?
The “Newspeak” of Facebook Reactions

By now you’ve probably heard, seen, or used Facebook’s “reactions” icons released early this morning. As the Atlantic describes it:

“Someone can now respond to any post on Facebook with a heart for ‘love,’ a laughing face for ‘haha,’ an astonished gape for ‘wow,’ a tearful frown for ‘sad,’ a reddening face for ‘angry,’ or a good ol’ reliable thumbs-up for ‘like.’”

Although Facebook’s changes expand the original “like” concept six-fold, one can’t help but wonder if such an expansion will further diminish our use of language, particularly as the convenience of a tap will offer our opinion far more quickly than the arduous task of writing out a comment in *gasp* plain English.

Just a thought, but is it possible that Facebook’s six emoji reactions are hurtling us toward Orwell’s Newspeak in a way we never could have imagined?

“‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take ‘good’, for instance. If you have a word like ‘good’, what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? ‘Ungood’ will do just as well — better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good’, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning, or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. But in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words — in reality, only one word.

“‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?’”

Image Credit: Imgur


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