First appeared on Blogcritics.
We have all fallen victim to a subtle form of social media bullying found on Facebook or other venues when we have been basically told to “share” or “cut and paste” something. We are told if we do not do this, we really aren’t someone’s friend and something diabolical as a Sith Lord from Star Wars.
On Facebook my friend Karin responded to this never ending barrage of calls to “share” and “cut and paste” by calling out everyone who asks her to do this. Being a cancer survivor herself, it is not that she is unsympathetic to those who ask to do these things for everything from Alzheimer’s disease to zygomycosis. She rightly notes that this is “a form of bullying even if that was not the intention.”
We also get similar emails from people who are pushing one agenda or another. When I see the sender’s address sometimes I already know it’s today’s latest bashing of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump. It doesn’t end there because I get a plethora of emails regarding all sorts of topics, and it’s always the same thing: “Send this back to me when forwarding to others,” and then the cryptic warning noting “if you hit delete, I’ll know where you stand.”
I hate to break it to all the people who seem to have so much time on their hands that they can forward all this content to everyone on their contact list or on social media multiple times on a daily basis – we respect your opinions but are not here to be your conduit to getting them out to even more unsuspecting individuals. It is incredulous to think that people should do this because of friendship and that the very nature of that relationship hinges on doing your bidding.
This brings to mind the Facebook “cut and paste” hoax of a few years back that circulated for a while. The basic gist was that anyone who cut and pasted something on Facebook – stories, personal photos, and other material – was surrendering copyright to Facebook. While that turned out to be unfounded, it sort of brings up the whole notion of what are we doing cutting and pasting someone else’s post and making it seem like our own.
I have to admit that sometimes I have felt pressured to “cut and paste” because an old buddy, relative, or someone I care about has asked to me to do so. I have even acquiesced on occasion, but later on I have thought about it and wondered why I did. Even if I am “sharing” someone else’s post, there is a more than likely chance that the people reading it are going to think that I generated this thing (even if it states that I shared someone else’s posted material).
So seeing Karin’s post today on Facebook got me thinking that I too have felt pressured – and what is bullying but pressuring someone to do something that they do not want to do – to share or cut and paste, and like the not so crazy Howard Beale (Peter Finch) from the movie Network, I’m standing up and saying, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.”
So to all my friends, relatives, and associated persons, please understand that I am not going to share, cut and paste, or in any other way disseminate your messages of love, hate, anxiety, and fear. Please do not send me religious emails with flickering candles that warn me that I must forward and return to you when I do. Please don’t warn me that by not sending these things that I will be punished and the only way to reap the rewards is by sending it on.
Please don’t ask me to forward your jokes, your angry rants or someone else’s angry rants. I am happy to read and consider what you send, but when I hit delete it’s not the end of the world but rather the end of my interest in what has been sent.
I guess I am being rather anti-social about social media, but so be it. The truth is that I go online to connect with people and see how they are doing. Like anyone else I will “like” something I find interesting, moving, or meaningful; however, if I come across something that is inappropriate or offensive, I don’t go out of my way to post a negative comment or click “Like” and then choose the “angry” symbol; I merely keep scrolling like a swimmer trying to get quickly out of the undertow.
On occasion I will share something I find meaningful – usually George Takei's and Julian Lennon’s posts – and that will continue; however, I never have any expectations regarding what I share or like and hope for none in return. I will continue to do the same with emails of things of a similar nature, but I never have or nor I ever will ask anyone to share something and base our connection on whether or not a person does so.
The online world should be a better place than it is and, just like the real world out there, it is up to us to make a difference. Here’s hoping that anyone who has read this will take it from whence it came and in the good spirit behind it. If this article bothers you, please feel free to “unfriend” me or stop sending me emails; I’ll miss your connection but will understand.
Photo credits: CNN, ABC News