You’re not showing your support for anti-bullying. You’re not expressing your anger against vicious diseases like cancer. You’re not conveying your disgust of homophobia or racism.
Despite your good intent, you’re not actually doing any of these things. At least not in a useful way.
Images like the one below are a common fixture on social networking websites.
In reality you’re participating in a little Internet emotional extortion. You’re being exploited. And by posting or sharing it, you’re exploiting your friends. Not only that, but you’re also contributing to the alarming trend of armchair “slacktivism” (more on that below,) and if that wasn’t bad enough, you are most likely helping some Facebook like-farming spammers make some easy money.
Probably not what you thought you were doing. Certainly not what you ought to be doing.
So take another look at the image above. As is common with these types of posts, the author has taken it upon themselves to explain to you, the reader, that you have to repost their image so as to show that you are against bullying.
If you belong to the 99% of people who apparently will not repost the image, well… then according to the message, you have no heart. And you presumably support bullying.
Of course this presents an obvious problem. The author of this message undeservedly and unjustly assumes the right to denounce strangers as heartless because they fail to perform a trivial, arbitrary task, like sharing a post on Facebook.
The author of the message has presumed that the 99% of people who apparently ignore the message do so not because they identify it as a shallow attempt at emotional manipulation – but because they do not identify with the cause outlined in the message. This type of presumption is of course baseless, arrogant and ignorant. Well, to be more concise, it’s plain wrong.
Not only that, but this is a classic case of extreme slacktivism, or “armchair activism” whereas the subject is instructed to help a cause by engaging in activities that are neither demanding in time nor cost, but also do very little to actually help the cause. This leads the subject to believe that they have helped when they haven’t. This is something that can potentially distract from genuinely helpful charitable causes.
But these posts often delve into even darker motives still, and that comes in the form of like-farming. Such posts are a favourite for like-farming Facebook Pages looking to accumulate Likes and Followers through manipulation and deception.
We discuss like-farming in more detail here, but it essentially refers to Pages on social media that accumulate followers via a constant barrage of posts that exploit, deceive and manipulate in order to build a large following. Such a large following can then be exchanged for money, or used to launch more sinister scams.
Whilst we outline one example of manipulation above, there are plenty more. And the “99% won’t repost this” modus operandi itself has many of its own variants targeting anything from cancer, homophobia, racism, homelessness, animal cruelty and patriotism.
The authors of these messages tell us that “99% of people will not repost this because they have no heart” when in reality a more accurate explanation may read “99% of people will not repost this because they correctly identify it as attention-seeking, emotion-exploiting spammy garbage”.
There are plenty of people on the Internet looking to manipulate you for their own gain, and this is one prime example. The moral of this post – don’t let them.