The heart of tech

This article was published on November 3, 2015


Contrary to some Twitter users’ opinions, using the new heart doesn’t make you gay

Contrary to some Twitter users’ opinions, using the new heart doesn’t make you gay
Lauren Hockenson
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Lauren Hockenson

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Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. She also has a folder full of dog GIFs and uses them liberally on Twitter at @lhockenson.

As Twitter users continue to undergo a medium-to-high level existential crisis in the wake of the company’s decision to remove the star symbol from its platform in favor of a heart, it seems that many people remain in a glass case of emotion. Change is hard, and there’s no shame in expressing your opinions about the change.

Well, except for when your opinion is that using a Twitter heart is gay, will make you gay, makes Twitter gay, or any combination of the words “Twitter” “heart” and “gay” in that same vein. That one you can keep to yourself.

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Despite the fact that we’re in the calendar year of 2015, many people haven’t figured out that employing or interacting with an icon on the Internet doesn’t make you homosexual. For those confused: modern science indicates that genetics play a factor in the expression of your sexuality, not clicking a Twitter heart.

Certainly you might think that this is an argument over semantics and not science. Of course, these people don’t actually believe that clicking the heart underneath a tweet will suddenly make them develop a sexual attraction for a person of the same sex. They just don’t like it.

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Ah but! There’s a flaw to that and it is this: the icons we use every day, whether is a heart, a star, a stop sign or a peace sign, carry with them specific intent and meaning that are designed to evoke emotions and reactions in their intended audience. Calling any icon or piece of technology gay (as well as practically everything else that isn’t directly identifying a homosexual person in a non-pejorative way) takes those feelings and distinguishes them as an other.

So in calling the “heart” gay, they in turn are reinforcing the standards that expressing feelings openly, even online, is a sign of weakness, femininity, homosexuality, and any other number of terms designed to make others feel like others. In 2015!

Let’s stop the foolishness and understand that design helps unify the human experience. Calling them “gay” is, at the bare minimum, ignorant. So let’s not, ok?

(H/T to Twitter user @THECAROLDANVERS for pointing out the trend.)

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