Spreading Compassion and Awareness with Emotional Pistols

In order to get caught up on a few things, I’m reposting an old post from my Facebook about reposting on Facebook, because I fancy myself some kind of meta-humor genius.  Or else I didn’t get this week’s topic written in time.  It’s like when they announce on TV “Encore Presentation” when they really mean “rerun.”  But most of you probably haven’t seen this, so I’ll shut up and let you read now.

Let me preface this by saying that I understand that people repost the “repost this” posts out of sincere desire to get people thinking about a particular disease, disorder, social problem, whatever.  I understand and respect the intentions, and have even done so myself.  I have been touched in some way by most every issue in these posts.  However, they are growing more and more demanding and accusatory towards others in our social network, and I have written the following as part angry rant, part request that we read them more carefully and consider the language being used.

I do not wish to point the finger at anyone, only to point out the lack of civility used in calling attention to what are, indeed, serious matters.

Here’s the post:

Stupid cancer. We all want a new car, a new phone. A person who has cancer only wants one thing… to survive. I know that a lot of you “who think you’re too cool” probably won’t re-post this. But a very little amount of my friends will. Put this on your wall in honor of someone who died of cancer, survived, or who is fighting against it now.

Let’s break this down.

  1.  “Stupid cancer”—Yes.  I think we all agree that cancer sucks.  As a matter of fact, I would be shocked to find out that anybody I know is a cheerleader for cancer.
  1. “We all want a new car, a new phone.”—I don’t think this is true for even most people I know.  Sure, it’s great to have a car if you can afford it, and in this day and age a phone is a necessity for most people, be it for safety and security, or for work.  However, very few people I know want those things for status.  They have what they need as tools for survival in modern society.  Yes, there are those who want the newest, the most expensive, the flashiest, but they’re not the people running around in my circle.  I’m pretty sure that my friends and acquaintances are more concerned with doing a good job in a field they like, where their contribution is rewarding to them and somehow beneficial to society.  Those who have children are more concerned with feeding and nurturing them than with giving them the most expensive toys.
  1. “A person who has cancer only wants one thing… to survive.”—Actually, this is one of the grossest oversimplifications I have ever read.  A person with cancer wants to survive.  That’s a no-brainer.  But while he/she is going through treatment, he/she also wants to live life as normally as possible, or perhaps even make improvements.  He/she wants to spend time with family, laugh, love, go to the store, wash dishes, listen to music, etc.
  1.  “I know that a lot of you “who think you’re too cool” probably won’t re-post this.”—Okay, so I’m a self-centered douche if I don’t immediately repost this.  I don’t care about cancer, only about myself.  Or maybe I was just too busy slipping radioactive mickeys into people’s drinks in the hope of creating more cancer, then coming home and pleasuring myself while thinking about how my victims will suffer.  This is the part of this post that bugs me the most.
  1. “But a very little amount of my friends will.”—I’ll leave the grammar alone and just focus on being called out.  If I’m one of the people who don’t post, how can you even respect me and consider me a friend?  I mean, if I refuse to post after the last four brilliantly reasoned statements, you must really have a low opinion of me.  I don’t blame you.
  1. “Put this on your wall in honor of someone who died of cancer, survived, or who is fighting against it now.”—Or else?

Yes, cancer concerns me.  My mother is a cancer survivor, and my grandfather was a cancer victim.  So yes, Stupid Cancer.   I think of them and I pray for them, and I thank them for never telling me that I’m a prick if I don’t go shouting about it from every mountaintop.

Stepping off my soapbox now.  Please feel free to comment.  I’ll be back next week with more on my feelings about social media.

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6 Responses to Spreading Compassion and Awareness with Emotional Pistols

  1. ED Martin says:

    I dislike all those posts because they’re so pointless to the cause. Yes, cancer/child abuse/FL’s judicial system sucks. But you’re not going to change a damn thing by reposting on Facebook. If you really want to show your support for victims, DO something – make a donation, volunteer, protest, sign petitions, etc. Educating people on a subject is one thing; bullying them into reposting something meaningless is completely different.

    It kind of reminds me of Ricky Gervais’s tweet following the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma in May: “‘@MTVNews: Beyoncé, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma’ I feel like an idiot now…I only sent money.”

    • Ricky Gervais is spot on with that one. 🙂

      And yes, it is bullying. That’s the problem I have with those posts. I do repost reminder notices occasionally, because reminding people that they should get checked for cancer isn’t such a bad thing.

      I tend to stick to reposting things that are more informative. Missing child? Sure. (But I always check to make sure that the information is correct.) Get yourself checked for cancer? Yes, because I do think that having the reminder may help some people to do it, and there is often discussion about it. (More on that later.)

  2. CJ Jessop says:

    I dislike the emotional blackmail in those posts too. In fact adding something like ‘most people won’t repost this’ or any kind of guilt trip to a post will guarantee me not sharing it, regardless of how sympathetic I am to the cause.

    Just as I won’t ‘donate a tweet’ to stop child abuse. Because what good is letting some organisation send a tweet on my behalf going to do to stop a child from being abused? The people who abuse children aren’t going to read my Twitter feed and say ‘oh, I’d better stop abusing children, Cheryl doesn’t like it’. As ED said, I’m far better off giving money to a charity that actually helps children in danger of being abused.

    I have no problem showing solidarity for a cause on social networks, and I often do, but I don’t fool myself into thinking that I’m doing any more than letting my friends know how I feel about something.

  3. “Emotional blackmail.” That’s it, exactly. That makes me NOT share the information, no matter how important it is.

    But then, some of these aren’t really important. Cancer sucks. Okay, yeah. If you have been touched by cancer in some way, it may be very important for you to say that. There’s an argument to be made for catharsis. However, I can’t see the benefit of somebody forcing their friends to join them in railing at the universe.

  4. Jim says:

    Some years ago, I came across the advice that “if someone or something is trying to make you do something out of guilt, you are being manipulated, and that is always done for someone else’s benefit, not yours.” I have used that as a consistent barometer, and have had much less stress because I have refused to be sucked into things based on manipulated feelings of guilt. I like the term “emotional blackmail” in this context, but would caution that we need to beware of “emotional seduction” as well.

    • Yes, Jim, there is something seductive here, but it’s a very agressive kind of seduction. We certainly agree with some of what’s being said. How could we not? Cancer is terrible. Would you argue otherwise? Your silence (through not reposting) tells me that you would. Or so the seductor would suggest.

      Your expression makes me think of the young man being tempted by the beautiful woman in front of his friends. She wants him. His friends want him to go for it. If he doesn’t, there’s something wrong with him. Never mind that he may have very good reasons for not wanting to. (He’s saving himself for marriage, she’s not attractive to him, the pressure is a turn-off.)

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