In the hierarchy of of social media interactions, Twitter favorites are pretty low on the totem pole. It breaks down roughly like so: Facebook share > Twitter retweet > Tumblr reblog > Facebook like > Instagram heart > Tumblr heart > Twitter favorite. That’s mostly because nobody has any fucking idea what a favorite is actually supposed to mean, or, at least, nobody has taken the time to lay out all of the possible implications. Here they are.
Favorites are essentially what Facebook pokes used to be, but with 75% less desperation. In some remote cultures, in fact, five favorites in a row is considered a binding marriage contract by law. If someone of the opposite sex, or someone who appears attracted to members of your sex, favorites a single one of your posts, that means they want to have sex with you. Cuddle at worst. DM them right away to ask about meeting up next time they’re passing through your specific regional scene for a guaranteed awkward and disappointing encounter. You seemed funnier online. Less fat too.
2) Passive acceptance of a peon’s existence
Twitter is a brutal serfdom, arranged, Game of Thrones-like, into ruling houses (media elites, athletes, Weird Twitter, rap guys, feminists, conservatives, etc). In order to not show weakness, it’s imperative that the leaders of each tribe not become overly familiar with the help, aka the people put on earth to favorite and retweet your every precious 140 character utterance. Occasionally, much like in the real world, a simpleton might bungle their way into doing something useful for you, presenting information you didn’t have access to, for example. It would be untoward to acknowledge their efforts outwardly, for fear that your peers, or betters, will notice you slumming it and thereby do irreparable damage to your personal brand, so a favorite instead of reply or a retweet is useful in this case for the merciful internet user. It’s a form of saying, I acknowledge your humanity, although I do not see it, nor do I want to be seen doing so.
3) Punctuation ejector button
Oftentimes you may find yourself engaged in a spirited back and forth with a friend or acquaintance on Twitter, trading barbs, ‘aving a laugh or a good-natured debate (probably over some idiot hip-hop or “future of media” thing). After three or four @replies the Twitter veteran gets exhausted actually communicating in a way that so closely resembles IRL conversation, or, God forbid, something that effects an old fashioned email chain exchange (so #old). While it would be rude to simply stop replying suddenly, leaving your partner in the lurch, a good way to bring a halt to the proceedings is by favoriting the last thing the other party has said out of nowhere. This will indicate to them that the conversation is over, and that you have other pressing business to go back to, like starting other conversations with people higher up on the food chain than you and hoping they don’t brush you off with a favorite.
4) Hat tip
This is probably the most frequent use of the favorite. It occurs when someone says something funny enough that you’re compelled to acknowledge it, but not so funny that you’re going to retweet it. Let’s not get carried away here, pal. What am I, your joke publicist? It’s the handjob of Twitter interactions – pretty good, but not all it could be. A favorite in this instance is basically saying “You did an O.K. job with your Twitter joke and I’m proud of you. Not that proud, but still. ”
5) Literal Favorite!
This is literally your favorite thing you have ever read. Although this is what the terminology actually implies, this one is, admittedly, very rare.