Saturday, June 30, 2012

Copying and Pasting Awareness

"I bet 99 % of you won't repost this"

Many Facebook users post status updates that include this message after reposting it from someone else's. This is so rude. Passive aggressive. A guilt trip. They're pretty much saying "I don't think you'll join me in dealing with issue; I don't think you care about this cause, but I'll post this anyway." Is this how we garner support? We recycle someone else's message, instead of creating our own, and we guilt trip people -- our friends -- in the process? 

What exactly will happen if people don't share your message? You'll unfriend them? The bereaved, ill and other people will not get the help they need? What is the purpose in guilt tripping people? And how do you measure the success of such a campaign? Would you define a successful campaign as getting a lot of people to repost it? Do you think that is evidence that things are changing?

Posting such a thing is an act of self-righteousness.

Notice how these status updates never provide actionable information? Nothing to prompt people to take the message further? Just copy and paste nothing. If you are so passionate about your cause, if you feel it is so important to get your message across, come up with a strategic, UNIQUE social media engagement plan. With measurable objectives. And do more. Write letters to your government representative. Share information about how people can get help. If you're so passionate about spreading the message that people are suicidal and suffering in silence, post a hotline for people at risk. Donate to organizations that reach out to these people and show people how they can do the same. Write something specific, not generic. Write it yourself. Don't guilt trip your Facebook friends and think you're actually doing anything. 

I've never felt moved by one of these messages about issues that affects me personally. I've felt offended that people actually thought it would help, that they tried to persuade people that they were actually doing something to help people like me. Well, not tried to persuade. They actually believed it. If people keep perceiving their actions this way, things won't change. Because doing nothing counts for doing something. Doing nothing counts for doing enough.

It's not even an issue of time. I'm not suggesting that in order to care, to do something they have to create an organization and raise $20, 000. Finding and posting a hotline takes just a few minutes. So does writing your own message. But for some reason, that isn't easy enough. Maybe lots of people are posting such messages, but these just aren't being copied and pasted for some reason. Maybe slactivism is so pervasive and normal that it doesn't even occur to most people what is actually worth sharing. What would actually help. What true awareness is. We only share what people tell us to. With a guilt trip.


  1. I was having this same conversation the other day. These drive me mad and I refuse to repost them. The guilt, the "I'm better than you" attitude, all end up alienating me, even if I believe in the cause. As you say, if you truly support the cause add some ways to actually help. Or information about the disorder or cause you want to publicise. If you want to truly engage me, do something unique, personalise the message etc, not just regurgitate a meaningless paragraph.

    I know people mean well, I just don't think a lot think about what they are actually posting.

    PS saw one on Twitter tonight and had to refrain from tweeting back something less than polite.

  2. Thank you, Michelle! It really is "I'm better than you" -- couldn't have put it better. I have no idea how such attitude is supposed to accomplish anything, but I can't help but think that it isn't intended to. Not for the cause, anyway. Or maybe you're right: people mean well, but they just don't think enough before they post.

    We must connect on Twitter!