This was originally written as a facebook note in 2012, but it seems the internet still needs a reminder of these things…
There is far too much passive agression and too many poor attempts at mental manipulation on facebook at the moment.
The worst offenders are all those good cause photos and statuses.
You know the ones. Post this on your status if you lost someone to cancer, illness, whatever. Let the world know that special needs kids are special in a good way. Let’s remind the world of every sickness that exists.
Those are bad enough. What good does it do other than giving you an insight into the suffering of your friends list and a second hand method of proclaiming your personal issues to the world? Reposting these pictures doesn’t raise awareness or money or actually do anything useful. Often they’re not even connected to charities. They’re just constant reminders of the fact that there is suffering in the world and a form of slacktivism.
Then there’s the ‘repost if you agree’ ones. Now admittedly, I do this sometimes if something strikes a particular chord or if I’m feeling all melancholy and I happen across a post which sums up how I feel when I can’t find words. But if I reposted every single one (repost if you hate animal cruelty, hate children cruelty, want a pay rise, think the lib dems should tell the tories to stuff it, etc…) I would do nothing but repost these statuses and pictures. My timeline would be full of them, with no original thought or input at all. And indeed I know some people’s timelines that are exactly like that. Underneath all those posts, I don’t actually have a clue who they are any more, because all I see from them are second hand platitudes.
However, the ones that *really* bug me, to the point of making me do the opposite, are the ones that have a line like this in them:
“90% of people won’t repost this. Will you be one of the few who does?”
These, in the most shameless and guilt tripping way, latch onto people’s sense of inadequacy and playing on people’s egos. They imply that those who do not repost the image do not have a heart or are in some way deficient as human beings. They imply that by reposting the image/status, you are marking yourself out as different. Better. An individual. A worthy human being. “Go on, show the world how awesome you are.”
Go on, show the world how awesome you are for falling victim to mental programming and doing exactly what a facebook picture tells you to do, because you feel so inadequate that you need to prove to the world that you are a good person every opportunity that you get.
There are several of those pictures that I do like. I do find some of them touching, or funny. Some are connected to causes that I do think should be publicised. But every time I see that sort of statement, I bristle.
Reposting a facebook picture does not make you a better person.
And choosing not to does not make you a lesser one.
I don’t like these sorts of guilt trips on any level. They’re no better than playground crap.
“X would do this for me, they’re an awesome friend, why won’t you do the same thing?”
Sound familiar? I bet it does. And that’s exactly the sentiment that is being played on whenever you see one of those pictures or statuses. It was the same sentiment which was played upon by some of those ‘Cancer Selfie’ posts.
“I’m doing this. Look at me. I’m such a great person. Now you have to do it. And if you don’t, you’re not a good person at all. What’s the matter, do you want Cancer to win or something?”
If a cause is important to me, I do practical things for it. I worked for Cancer Research for several years as a volunteer. I donate unwanted stuff to Scope, because I want them to keep Beaumont College running. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and there’s tonnes more that people can do to actually help causes such as the fight against Cancer besides plastering Facebook with inane slacktivist cutsie posters.
Whether or not I repost a facebook picture says nothing about me as a person.
And it says nothing about your own value either.
Either positive or negative.
The only thing that increases or decreases your value on social media is your input of original thought and expression.