I still use Facebook. Many of my friends jumped ship the last time they changed their privacy agreements, but I didn’t. Partly because it does make it easier for me to keep in touch with my friends scattered across the country, but because I’ve made new friends through Facebook. I’m sure that for those of you who use it, you’ve seen people repost statuses. Some are meant to promote awareness, meant to thank groups of people… and some are meant to be silly. There’s a particularly funny one about people being eaten by dragons.
But last night a guy I really only know from a game I used to play on Mafia Wars posted the following (unedited):
For you Mr. President:Doesn’t make much sense, does it??: Homeless go without eating. Elderly go without needed medicines. Mentally ill go without treatment. Troops go without proper equipment. Veterans go without benefits that were promised. Yet we donate billions to other countries before helping our own first. 1% will re-post and 99% won’t. Have the guts to re-post this. I KNOW I’m in the 1%
It bothered me so much, that I defriended him. Bothered me on a few levels. The biggest one was the notion that we shouldn’t help others.
Let’s examine where those billions went in foreign aid- the bulk of the money was for disaster relief in Pakistan and Haiti. It’s easy to say that we shouldn’t help other countries, but when you think of the general poverty of those nations before the floods hit Pakistan, and Haiti was hit with the earthquakes… they completely lacked the capablities to help themselves. Not only that, in both of those instances, millions of people were impacted. Women, children… and in the case of Pakistan, plenty of people who have nothing to do with their political leanings.
I’m all for taking care of the US first, but at some point in time you have to look at where we stand and where someone else stands, and help them even if you don’t have much to give. Which is what the US does- not because we want everyone to think we’re flush with money. But because it’s the right thing to do.
Now, about the Obama bashing. I admit, there are a lot of things I wish he’d tackled- but ultimately, a lot of the problems that the status faults him for has nothing to do with him. Obama pushed for health care reform, which would help take care of the elderly medication issue. But tackling homelessness, benefits and increased military spending for equipment? He could introduce bills, but it would still have to pass through Congress. A Congress which was barely able to pass anything because they were too interested in holding party lines than doing what was right. So before we start pointing fingers, can we at least learn the basics about how our government works?
…but the thing that really got me was the bit goading you into reposting by saying that only 1% has the GUTS to do it. How is copy/pasting a lame message powerful?
Ultimately, this is what bothers me about the statuses that urge you to repost, or campaigns to get you to post something to “spread awareness.” It’s all passive. How does copy/pasting a message that says you’re unhappy with the government right now do anything? If you’re really unhappy, contact your Congressperson and tell them how you fell. How does posting a statement saying that you’re honoring Veterans do anything?
Let’s start a campaign of activism. I’m not talking about marching for causes- but something simple. When you see people sending those copy/pastes and it’s something you feel strongly about… take a few minutes and google a relevant link. Find a Veterans’ charity that helps soldiers acclimate to civilian life. Find a charity that fights to protect abused children… well, you get the idea.