Dear Facebook friends,
Please stop asking me to “share” or “like” things that you think are important. Don’t get me wrong. I think that whatever cause you have adopted is important. I just don’t think that appealing to my overburdened sense of guilt is the way to get me enthused by it.
Yes, I have a mother, I have a wife, my Father’s discipline while seemingly unfair at the time helped shape the person I am today, I know a nurse, I think my uncle is great, I hope the people I know that are fighting cancer don’t die of it, I think trees are a good idea, I am grateful for the teachers I had and those that teach my children now, I appreciate that there are people less or more fortunate than me and I accept that my life would be immeasurably poorer if I was an only child and that my brothers, while terribly annoying, are pretty good to have around. I even like my sisters-in-law who, while demonstrably loopy, are pretty cool ladies. Christ! They have to be to put up with a tool like me as their sister’s husband!
But sticking a notice on facebook for us to “like” doesn’t solve the problems of world hunger, wage inequity or environmental or societal degradation. It is merely a feel-good gesture to assuage our own guilt at not having gotten off our arses and taken steps to make the world a better place. This is emotional blackmail, not a meaningful undertaking.
Why not try this …
If you were to post:
“If your parents loved you unconditionally and worked their arses off to give a better life, don’t “like” this post. Call them and say thanks and, when you next have the opportunity, take them to dinner”; I would do it. Of course, I could “like” it in the hopes that my parents would see it and know that I am a loving and appreciative son, but my father loathes Facebook and while my mother is my Facebook friend, she assiduously avoids looking at anything I post because she finds it “a little too politcally diatribey” for her taste. Very shrewd woman my Mum. And for those very reasons, I am taking them to dinner when they’re next in Sydney.
If you were to post a meme with a picture of a flower and the words:
“Let’s all agree that nurses have a shit time of it. Put yourself in their shoes: How would you like to come home covered in sick people’s bodily-fluids?
You wouldn’t. So do something about helping them help you by being polite to them. They get it, you’re sick … but EVERYONE they spend their day with is sick so stop being an arsehole about it and remember your manners.
And while your at it ring your local member and ask them what they’re doing about wage disparity in the healthcare industry”, I am quite certain that I would take it into consideration. Would I ring Malcolm Turnbull? Probably not because he is well aware of my existence and as such screens my calls (and Tanya Plibersek would just put on that “What-now?” tone she has perfected). But at least I wouldn’t bitch at the poor, over-worked, underpaid nurse that has to prep me for my colonoscopy. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t complain to that nurse at all because she’s holding all the Aces.
I would also wonder what the fuck the flower means.
If you were to post:
“Your child is an arsehole because of YOU … not his or her teacher so shut the Hell up and help the kid with their homework for a change”; I would most likely read my son’s project on the Storming of the Beaches of Normandy and show him why Wikipedia is so unreliable as a single source … in fact, I did just that and I learned some things I didn’t know … mainly that my nine-year-old is a master manipulator who somehow managed to get me to write his assignment.
What I am trying to say in my indisputably long-winded way is that getting me to “like” or “share” your cause does very little if nothing to advance it. Sure, you get to count the likes and shares which makes you feel good, but does it solve the problem? Hardly!
“Like” is the mouse-click equivalent of “I know … but what can I do?”
Facebook has shown itself to be a powerful tool for uniting and motivating groups of people but “liking” and “sharing” just doesn’t cut it. During the Arab Spring, if protesters had posted:
“Like if you think Hosni Mubarrak is an unconscionable bastard”; the unconscionable bastard would still be in power. Instead they posted: “5am. Tahrir Square. That fat SOB won’t know what hit him! ROFLMAO ;)” and completely changed their country.
So the next time you want to effect change, I mean real change, don’t ask me to “like” or “share”, tell me to get off my lazy arse and make a difference.
It is attitudes and not platitudes that bring about change.
Do not like or share if you agree. Instead call your favourite charity and pledge ten bucks.
13th May 2013