Facebook & Internet Activism

18/04/2012 § Leave a comment

Okay, so, there are lots of things out and about on the internet that drive me crazy. Chain letters, blah-di-blah. We all know the irritation. Lately, Facebook is getting a little out of control. By now, I’m used to things saying “Repost if you agree that rainbows are magic. 99% won’t repost.” Now, the growing trend is to try to guilt people into sharing photos. It’s sort of like seeing a car with a bumper sticker that says “Honk if you love Jesus” except there would be an addendum saying “If you don’t honk, you agree that you cut the heads off of baby honor students and eat them for breakfast every morning.” You see this with stuff like “Share if you love your mom. If you don’t share, you hate moms.” I don’t share anything like that, even if I agree with the sentiment, because I’m not going to let the internet bully me into feeling guilty for not clicking on “share”.

What’s worse, though, are the pictures of dead babies in trash cans, women in the midst of being beaten, people with facial deformities (sometimes coupled with a patriotic guilt trip). These things baffle me. I hate seeing them on my news feed. It drives me bonkers.

Image

It’s not that I eat babies for breakfast every day. Indeed, I support not leaving babies to die in trash cans. I don’t think women should be beaten, I support giving aid to women in these situations who need help. I support telling people it’s not okay to beat other people. I support compassion. What I don’t support is the ameliorating effect of hitting the “share” button, and the way it makes you feel like you’ve done your duty to the world. I hate the way I saw this come up on my feed and reacted like “Oh, a dead baby in a trash can. Scroll.” because images like this hold less and less power for me.

For my anthro course this week, I read Karen Strassler’s Refracted Visions. In Chapter Five (I think) she talks about the way in which photographs, even when reproduced, can galvanize. (Take that, Benjamin!) What I see happening to myself, though, is that I am simply slowly becoming used to these images. I understand that their purpose is to shock, and to arouse people to action. Unfortunately, the action it is arousing in people is to hit “share” and rest for the day. If you care, do the legwork, people.

Hit “share” if you agree. If you don’t, sad pandas will come and dance the Morris.

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