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Sunday 2 December 2012

Slactivism and Facebook 'likes' - over it... and useless. Do something meaningful instead.

Several weeks ago my close friend and I were having one of those impassioned conversations we always have, where we can let fly and there is no judgement. And often lots of swear words. It went something like this:

"I am so sick of the shit people are posting on my Facebook newsfeed. You know, 'like' if you care about this dying child. 'Like' and 'share' if this photo of a dying dog moves you. How many 'likes' can this American soldier disfigured in the war in Afghanistan get? I am so over it. Facebook used to be a happy, fun place, where I could see my family's photos, my friends news and events and where they've been, that kinda stuff. If I see someone post that crap I will defriend them immediately. I am so [insert expletive] over it."

"Yes, I know what you're talking about," I reply, nodding furiously, although she can't see me as we're mobile phone chatting. "If I 'like' a photo a dying child what kind of difference will that really make? It's like the chain letters I used to get on email. Or - gawd, I'm old - the ones photocopied and popped in your mailbox."

To be blunt: sweet FA difference. That's what.

I cringe when I recall that a few days later, I post a story on an organisation who helps families who have lost a baby. I post a moving pic. My friend soonafter posts a status update on Facebook expressing what we'd been talking about.

Gosh, did she mean me? I never asked, I was too scared [I kid. I am sure she woulda told me... I hope?]

But all jokes aside, I did get her point. And I also get the differentiation between the two. Photos accompanying important organisations who do emotional work for people in need is one thing. "How many 'likes' can we get for this sick child is quite another.

Scams work like this: once ''likes" are gathered, the page is then sold to organisations, which turn them into brand pages. If the page builds up enough "likes" and people can then sell the page to someone else, they can then use the much-liked page for whatever they want.

So there you have it.

Trust your initial gut reaction and don't hit 'like'. Instead, do something really, actually, tangibly useful. Like donate to the organistion that moves you, or volunteer your time. Move away from the 'slactivism' movement [loosely explained like this: slack-arsed activism' - slactivism] and stop pretending you're doing something useful and meaningful. Actually do it in real time, in real life.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever 'liked' a photo like this on Facebook? Why, or why not? Share your thoughts below.

Keyboard photo: from http://fromactivismtoslacktivism.wordpress.com/

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