In an interesting social experiment, Dean Terry, director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, has committed what some may call "social-media blasphemy." Terry has created an “enemy app” for Facebook, which allows users to enemy people, products, or things. EnemyGraph, as the app is known, was released about a month ago and some of the most disliked items so far include Rick Santorum, Nickelback, and hypocrisy. Despite the fact that an app to publically dislike something or someone seems like a reasonable addition, it could potentially cause more harm than good, perhaps even increasing instances of cyber bullying or inciting more unnecessary internet drama.
There are two different aspects to EnemyGraph, the first is “enemying” someone you know, the other disliking a product, idea, or celebrity. It seems that the very act of calling someone your “enemy” causes tension and creates an uncomfortable environment. What person on Facebook could you dislike so much to call your enemy? Would it not be easier, and kinder, to simply not friend them? Maybe I’m naïve or out-of-touch with social media norms, but I go on Facebook to connect with the people I like, not to sit fuming at my computer, staring at the people I chose to send an “enemy request” to. Or, in a reversed situation, it would feel awful to log onto Facebook to wish someone happy birthday, only to receive several enemy requests. This to me seems like an open invitation for bullying, and just another way to cause anxiety and lower the self-esteem of vulnerable internet users.
In response to cyber bullying concerns, Terry claims that to disagree is a conversation starter, and will not necessarily open to door for bullies or cause fights to break out. I agree that people can intelligently disagree with one another without becoming bullies (welcome to PolicyMic!), but that’s only if they take the time to articulate their thoughts. I have a nagging feeling that if people began enemying each other, or even products, without stating their reason it may have a disastrous affect. Terry’s argument is understandable; there is a desire to bond over the things we dislike, and in some cases, the ability to be able to enemy an idea (e.g. misogyny, the death penalty) or a public figure could potentially aid protests or rebellions. However, it seems that social media is doing just fine aiding protests and rebellions without EnemyGraph, and there is already enough cyber bullying within the current system. Not to mention, letting people know you dislike something via social media is not difficult, which leads me to question what EnemyGraph truly has to offer. Additionally, discussing the things we do like would probably promote longer lasting, more positive, conversation whereas connecting over the things most people dislike, take Nickelback for example, could only yield simple and limited conversation.
While the desire to have an app like EnemyGraph is understandable, the act of enemying people, products, or things is likely to create a tense environment and cause more drama than necessary.