Friday, October 11, 2013

Stop Social Media Bullying NOW!

If you "do" Facebook or other social media sites you'll recognize the species of message that I'm talking about here.  You may have "shared" one or posted an original one following the same formula.  Have you ever posted something that says something like this:
  • "Are you against (insert something awful here)?  I bet 50% of you don't care enough to repost this."? 
It might say 99% of you (my cold-hearted friends) won't care enough about this awful thing to take the time to share it with your 1,788 Facebook friends. Whatever it says, if it ends in a guilt trip trying to induce you to fill up other people's email boxes or Facebook pages with endless versions of this stuff, it's a form of bullying. In essence, the underlying message says, "Do this or you're not my friend" or "Do this or you're not a good person", "Do this or you aren't one of the cool people" or one of the more specific versions -- "Do this or you don't love Jesus."

Any way you share these sorts of messages, it's little short of playground bullying. I don't mind if you ask em to share, but don't try to lay a guilt trip on me. It works with people who are desperate to have friends or to belong to a certain set of cool people.

Me, I'm suspicious of any group that would start something like this that resorts to intimidation to get people to do things for them. Of course, many Facebookers wouldn't understand that if they happened to be one of the cool kids or one of the several garden variety bullies back there on the playground. To bullies and their terrified toadies it would simply seem like an effective marketing tool.

I recognize the technique.  I was the kid with the broken horn-rimmed glasses with tape on the bridge who made good grades that the Neanderthal's who worked for the cool kids liked to stuff in lockers.  I was a target K-10.

What really blows me away is that one of these posts is running around on Facebook intimidating people in order to get them to pass along a post that says they "hate" bullying. The last paragraph suggests that only a cold-hearted bully wouldn't "share" the post with everyone on their friend's list. Many people pass it along from guilt. Who wants your friends to know you don't hate bullying after all?

The problem is that they're just surrendering to another kind of bullying when they hit that "share" button. When they do that, it only encourages social media bullying to continue.

Let me tell suggest a response to this kind of bullying. Just stop passing this stuff along. It's bullying plain and simple. It's like saying, "If you hate annoying Facebook posts, share this with all your friends!" 

Let me suggest another strategy. If you really hate bullying, don't share this kind of stuff. Jesus will still love you. Pass along this post instead. No pressure. You don't have to. You won't get bad luck if you don't.  Angels won't deflate your car tires and you will not develop genital warts!

Plenty of good people don't want to pass this stuff along and shouldn't be made to feel bad about it if they don't.  It's a big time suck and a huge waste of time. In what way will a Facebook post put a stop to bullying? Besides, few of your friends will "like" a post like this one and fewer yet will pass it along. The response will likely be underwhelming without all the tacked-on guilt!

Besides, it's enough to simply not pass this kind of stuff along. It does no good and only reinforces knuckling under to social bullies.

As Mrs. Reagan used to say,  "JUST SAY NO!"

Tom King © 2013

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