The world of Twitter has slowly evolved into its own little sociological universe that users have more or less invented themselves. Consider that even though Twitter provides us with basic tools there, how we've been using them has really been dictating the true direction of Twitter. And one of the simplest tools available there has actually turned into one of the most revealing in how people feel about each other on social media. Ironically, it says so much despite no words uttered directly and only repeating what someday already said.
The above refers to Twitter's favorites section where you can instantly favorite a tweet by pressing a little golden star. While Twitter refers to it simply as a process for people to save tweets they like, what's the real psychology behind favoriting a tweet? Some online guides have provided some armchair psychology into multiple categories. With that, Twitter users are providing some of their own ideas on what they think the real motivations of favorites are. But does it go beyond and give us some deeper sociological insights into how people really feel about each other when not communicating face to face?
Favoriting Over Retweeting
There seems to be an unsaid dichotomy developing over making a tweet a favorite and retweeting someone's tweet. The art of RT'ing a tweet has been around since the beginning of Twitter and used to be the true favoriting method. That's because you're making someone's tweet more public in your own feed, including using variation on the RT of directly retweeting the whole tweet or just using copy and paste. While the psychology of a retweet may have to be done on its own, what's the real difference between an RT and a favorited tweet?
So far, there hasn't been any set rules, and some people might get insinuated vibes that a favorited tweet is slightly less than if the person retweeted directly on their page. In some cases, it may simply mean that they only give an RT directly on their page to people they know in real life. Everyone else they only know tangentially will be relegated to the favorites box.
The above might sound like a compact sociological picture of favoriting a tweet. Other times, it may be insinuated in a much more complex way that makes friendships on social media perhaps more scrutinized.
Are Favorites Meant Only for Compliments?
Many people (including some notables) use their favorites box to merely post tweets that have positive comments from real fans. In that regard, considering we can't go and call up our massive Twitter archive immediately to find the tweets we admire, favorites may be becoming our little scrapbook of compliments that can help us feel good about social media again after losing faith in its positives. Many notable people feel overly sensitive when they see how open of a forum it is to widespread criticism from supposed fans. During the bleakest moments, they can open their favorites box and be reminded that humanity still has rays of hope in the complex social media dynamic.
As with the confusion over an RT and a favorite, though, it might lead to friendship confusion when it appears that a favorite is slightly less important than an RT. Should it be looked at that way, or has Twitter's lack of real definition over RT's and favorites led to people thinking favorites are nothing but euphemisms for other thoughts?
In a recent Time Magazine piece, we see just how skeptical people have become over favorites rather than just take them at complimentary value. Everyone seems to think that favorites could even be passive-aggressive without having to say anything outright to individuals they actually despise. Others think that it's used to merely favorite all conversation out of fear of being considered cold if they don't respond. Or it might be that someone said something they agree with, yet didn't have time to respond with a witty reply.
Yes, this might lead to a lot of confusion on what communication really is on Twitter. Regardless, it's clear that Twitter is the place to be if you want to study the real psychology of society today and how it operates on a more impersonal basis. Before you get too bewildered, your best course of action is to merely look at favorites as something overly casual rather than a true indication of how someone really feels. Most likely, a favorite is merely done as an impulse rather than with any thought.
Your only worry is when someone takes the time to go through their favorites box and delete specific tweets they no longer consider favorites. Despite deleting them being an option, most people let their favorites box stand as it is, perhaps as our own little Library of Congress to show the better side of online communication.