4 Things You Can Do Instead Of (Or In Addition To) Participating In Vacuous Social Media Campaigns

First, I’d like to get something out of the way:

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry if you participate in social media campaigns; if you participated in today’s big social media campaign (#bumpday).

18j2p8l1obzyxjpgI’m sorry if you posted in a vague Facebook status where you put your purse when you get home in the evening to let people know breast cancer is out there.

 

I’m sorry if you did the Ice Bucket challenge or posted a #nomakeupselfie or whatever.

I’m sorry.

I’m not saying you are vacuous. I’m not saying you are lazy.

I’m saying your campaign is vacuous and lazy.

I’m not saying you sit behind your computer and do the easiest things possible, without ever actually lifting a finger or volunteering your time or donating even just a dollar to really help those in need you claim your social media challenges and campaigns help.

I’m saying that a lot of people – in the general sense – are.

A lot of people are posting their social media challenges and literally doing nothing else.

They posted pictures of their favorite childhood cartoon character on their Facebook status to raise awareness of child molestation – and really thought that stopped molesters and helped children. And really did nothing else but pat themselves on the back for their high level of philanthropic outreach.

They did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to get out of donating money. Sure, the Ice Bucket Challenge did raise an obscene amount of money for ALS research – from people that didn’t do it. (It was either do the challenge, or donate the money; and while a lot of people did both, a lot of people sincerely thought taking the bucket of ice was an adequate contribution).

So today is Bump Day – a day to raise awareness of motherhood and growing healthy babies. A day to support mothers – new, old, to-be; and band together for the overall health of moms around the world. I get it, and a lot of people I know have done it. Some are pregnant right now, some recently had babies. Some haven’t had a baby in over a decade.

I get it. But I’m also fucking sick of it.

One of the women that posted a photo in my Instagram feed is 8 months pregnant. She posted her #bumpday pic with a little caption about it being in honor of maternal and prenatal health. I happen to know she’s smoked cigarettes for the entire 8 months.

Another “friend” (read: person I knew of in high school over 15 years ago) posted her “bump” 6 months postpartum. It was a flat stomach shot. In the comments she rambled on and on about how she’s glad she isn’t a “fat fuck anymore,” like she apparently felt she was when she was pregnant. Sort of missed the point.

And then there are those with bump loss, and by that I mean #bumpday is just another fucked up reminder that not everyone is destined for an easy path to first time or repeat motherhood. If I were to post my bump photo, it would be for the multiple miscarriages I have had over the last few years, the most recent being just three months ago.unnamed

The point is this: for every well-meaning and good person out there participating in these vacuous social media campaigns, there are so many others just participating with no good intentions whatsoever.

Too many.

The bottom line is that if you want to participate in these social media campaigns, the important thing is to follow up the photos and the posts and the Tweets with actions. Here are just a few suggestions.

1. Donate Money

This is the easiest thing you could possibly do in addition to or instead of participating in social media campaigns.

Donate money.

You can literally do this while sitting on your ass, binge watching Orange Is the New Black, eating pizza directly from the box because you’ve given up so much that you can’t even be bothered to walk 10 feet into your kitchen to get a plate.

Some social media campaigns have even made it so easy that you can just text a number from your phone – it isn’t even usually a full length phone number – and they automatically tack on $5 to your phone bill, which gets donated.

You literally only have to hit five numbers on your cellphone keypad and click send.

2. Donate Time

 This is obvious. Every charity needs volunteers. Every organization needs people to help. Sometimes it’s as simple as making an hour’s worth of phone calls, or stuffing envelopes.

The only caveat is that this will require you to get your ass off the couch, if even just for long enough to sign up to help from home.

3. Learn About the Cause You Are Supposedly Supporting

I guarantee you that a vast majority of people posting their #bumpday photos haven’t a single fucking clue what it’s about.

I also know from personal experience that a lot of kids who were participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had no idea what the hell they were doing besides pouring ice on each other and laughing.

And this it the ultimate folly of social media campaigns: they often don’t raise awareness about dick.

I still have no idea what the #nomakeupselfie thing was about, and while I didn’t participate in it I should have at least taken the time to get to know the issues at hand. It seems as though we – collectively, as a world – have forgotten that knowledge is power. Or we’ve somehow confused our Instagram photos and bullshit Facebook status games with knowledge and understanding.

4. Listen To Someone You Know That May Be Affected

We don’t always know people that are affected directly by the issues having to do with the campaigns we portray to support in our posts on social media.

But we all know where we could find one. We all know someone that may be, but we just haven’t taken the time to learn about them and their experiences.

I feel as though people don’t communicate with others in their lives anymore, particularly about things that matter in the world.

They don’t know enough about each other – the big stuff.

They don’t ever ask “how are you doing,” rather they sit and talk about themselves.

Unless you know every single aspect of every single person’s life, they may be affected or afflicted by one of the many causes out there on social media daily – and you could never have a clue, because you never stopped to listen. You won’t know unless you ask, or communicate, or just listen to the people around you.

The problem with social media campaigns is that it’s all about you, when you are often nothing more than a casual supporter. It isn’t quite the same as going into your community and listening to survivors of domestic abuse, or volunteering to sit with cancer patients during their treatments.  Whenever I say these things to people, they say they only have so much time in the day. Then they promptly change the subject to what happened this week on The Bachelorette, or what they’ve been doing at work lately.

There’s more to life than selfies and TV and Facebook and workplace drama. Maybe – just maybe – all these social media campaigns wouldn’t be vacuous – so empty and meaningless – if there was more of a discussion and more action behind every post.

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Things to Forgo Being All A’Twitter About

Somehow I came across this blog the other day.  Don’t waste your time clicking the link, actually:  the blogger’s 14 places not to Tweet did not prove as entertaining as I thought it would.  This is of no fault to the blogger so much as it is (in the end) just already pretty obvious where you shouldn’t be posting on your Twitter or Facebook (for real, who updates their Twitter during their wedding photos).  Although, the area where it is not as clear is in that of what you should not be posting about.

The reason for this is simple:  everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, and all of their other social networking sites, for different reasons.  Some use it to complain about their lives; others to market themselves for work.  Still others are on to keep in contact with friends and family and share information.  The possibilities of why people are hooked in to social media are endless; and yet, the thing to remember is that not everyone is on for the same reason as you.  As a result, it’s important to follow some simple discretion when it comes to your posts.  Your friends/followers/connections/whatever-you-may-call-thems will thank you.

You all remember my blog a few weeks ago about things I would prefer you not post online.  While that was an all encompassing list of photos, updates, articles, etc. that seems more for Facebook than anything else, this handy-dandy list pertains specifically to the status-update; or, in Twitter-land, the Tweet.

Things to Forgo Being All A’Twitter About

  1. Consistent with the main theme of things I would prefer you not post online, let’s kick this list off with anything relative to bowels or personal hygiene.  That includes (but is not limited to): showers, baths, shaving your legs, shaving your face, shaving your nether-regions, waxing, and anything having to do with the effects of one too many Triple Steak Burritos at taco bell.
  2. Posts about how your [fill in the blank] is the best [fill in the blank] ever.  Your [fill in the blank] is not the best [fill in the blank] ever because someone else on my page says that their [fill in the blank] is the best [fill in the blank] ever, and quite clearly there can’t be more than one best [fill in the blank] ever, so you must both be wrong.
  3. Details of your labor and delivery.  If you’re like me and you’re in that 20 – 40 age range, every other post on Facebook or Twitter is about pregnancy and childbirth.  Share the happy time with everyone, sure; but spare us how many centimeters you’re dilated.
  4. Sex.  Sex.  Sex.  As in, you having it.  The only thing your status updates about sex let us know is where we should make sure to bring a prescription of penicillin along with next time we travel.  Please, spare us all.
  5. The dramatic ups and downs of your relationship.  If you are announcing a new boyfriend, or a finale to your traumatic marriage, that’s fine.  But every day with the “I’m so alone in this marriage” and the “feeling rejected by my man” gets really old and seems more a cry for attention than anything else.
  6. And on the note of cries for attention, everyone should just skip past those vague posts that are intended only to get people’s attention.  Save us the “well that was just great”s and just say what you mean.
  7. Excessive quotes.  I have been known to post a quote or two about things that are truly entertaining, or more often from a book I’m reading.  But people that post quotes ad nauseum, very often with those happy crappy “isn’t life grand” themes just pisses everyone off.  Limit your quotes to infrequent; and make sure there’s some meaning behind them.  As one blogger puts it:  “Quoting the wisdom of someone else does not make you philosophical or smart. It simply makes me dislike you.”
  8. Have you ever seen one of those annoying status updates that go on and on about sisters, brothers, people with cancer, the military, etc, etc?  You know those ones that try and guilt you into reposting them at the end with some jargon like “85% of people won’t repost this, let’s see if you do.”  Yeah, those.  Friggin’ stop it!
  9. While we’re on that, the Facebook games.  Like the one about posting your shoe size with a frowny face afterwards to try and “trick the guys” into thinking you’re posting about being disappointed about the size of a man’s member; or the one where everyone posted the color of the bra they were wearing to raise breast cancer awareness.  I’ve got news for you ladies:  you aren’t raising awareness of anything except how much of  a ninny you can be.
  10. Posts about how you are having a nervous breakdown.  I’m not talking about the occasional “had a really bad day” or “relieving my stress with a glass of wine” … those are fine.  I’m talking about the posts that go on and on, complaining about how you just can’t take it all anymore; and that occur so frequently in the week it’s all anyone expects from you.  I get that a lot of you may have very stressful lives, but just remember this:  somewhere out there there is someone in a much worse situation than you, and it is very likely they are on your friends/followers list and thinks you’re being nothing but whiny and ungrateful for the things you have.  If you have some personal problems, share them with others in private – telephone, email, and in person works much better than a broadcast to the entire Social-Network-a-verse.
  11.  This one isn’t so much a thing you should avoid posting so much as improper ways to post.  STOP POSTING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!  PLEASE!!!  ALL YOU ARE DOING IS YELLING AT ME!  AND WHILE WE’RE AT IT, LET’S STOP USING IMPROPER GRAMMAR, SPELLING (WIT U), AND PUNCTUATION.  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO PUT A SPACE BETWEEN YOUR EXCLAMATORY SENTENCE AND THE EXCLAMATION POINT ! ! !
  12. The ever-dramatic, attention-getting posts about how you’re quitting Facebook or Twitter “for good this time.”  One person on my friends list on Facebook continually goes back and forth between having her Facebook active and not, and frankly it drives me insane.  The last time she was on she posted status after status about how she was deleteing her page again and someone commented “stop crying for attention and either delete your page or delete me from your friends list.”  Here!  Here!
  13. Finally, let’s all stop posting that we are on your way somewhere mundane.  If you are on your way to a wedding or a cool new place, that’s fine, but spare us the daily update that you’re on your way to work.  No one cares.
There’s a start, although I’m sure we can make this list much longer.  Leave a comment on what you want to see people forgo being all a’Twitter about.