Now, please don’t think I hate everything; it’s true that I hate most things, but not all. I love the internet. I love this blog, and my other blog, and any site where I get to write and share my opinions with the world. I have a particular fondness for Facebook, although not for Twitter. (Twitter is too restrictive for one of my shameless prolixity.)
Having said that, there is one thing (who’m I kidding? there are lots of things really) about Facebook that irritates me beyond measure, and that’s that it’s plagued with annoying pleas and appeals to ‘like’ things. The latest I’ve seen is a picture of a German Shepherd with a broken leg and a message along the lines of ‘This dog saved two girls from being raped. 1 Like = 1 Salute to him. 1 Share = 100 Salutes. Keep scrolling if you don’t care.’ I’ve also recently seen a photo of a little girl holding a card saying ‘I kicked cancer’s ass,’ accompanied by the exhortation to ‘like’ the post if we’re ‘proud of her’ and to do nothing if we’re indifferent.
Well, great — the girls didn’t get raped and the kid recovered from a life-threatening disease — but all the ‘likes’ and ‘salutes’ in the world won’t make a shred of difference. The dog’s — well — a dog: he’d prefer tummy rubs and biscuits. The kid’s about four: she’d prefer the human-child equivalent, and — one would imagine — her parents are too delighted to have her well again to care whether a few (thousand) unknown people on FB have ‘liked’ the picture. At least, I’d hope they would be — priorities and all that.
I feel the same about those ‘This is breast cancer/mental health/end child abuse/autism awareness week’ photos and statuses that end with ‘Like and share this on your wall if you agree with/care about [whatever]. 95% of people won’t. I know which of my friends will share it, though.’
Yeah, I’m in the 95%. Not necessarily because I don’t care — maybe I do, maybe I don’t — but because I refuse to be dictated to by someone who for their own gratification thought it’d be a good idea to make a shameless appeal to people’s sentimentality. Even if I were tempted to post the message on my wall, those final, smug, self-righteous, holier-than-thou words will guarantee that I won’t. (Plus they often contain grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. What? You thought I could write a whole screed like this without mentioning how shoddy a lot of the English is on the internet? Really? Oh, I forgot — you don’t really know me yet.)
My suggestion is this: if people really care about these causes, why not do something to help them? Volunteer at a hospice or an animal shelter; do a sponsored something-or-other to raise money; stand in the street on a cold January day rattling a tin. Just do something — but don’t pretend you have a social conscience just because you are capable of clicking ‘like’ and then getting on with your own comfortable life.