Hello. My name is Karen and I’m a horrible person. I don’t love my kids; I don’t love my husband; I don’t love my parents or any other family members, living or dead. I don’t support breast cancer research, autism research, or any other research for any other chronic, debilitating, terminal, or other disease or condition. I don’t support raising awareness for any cause you can think of. Oh yes, and I always deny Jesus.
At least, that’s the message I send on Facebook whenever I fail to ‘like’ or repost one of those obnoxious memes.
I understand that people post those things to give a shout-out to someone they love (including loved ones lost to cancer or something who are apparently checking Facebook from heaven right along with Jesus) or to support a cause they believe in, but aren’t there better ways to do that? Is breast cancer or autism research really being helped by a graphic on Facebook? Or does someone just repost that graphic and feel they’ve done their part? Is Facebook really the best way–or heaven forbid, the only way–we have to communicate with our loved ones?
If you support a cause, donate some real money to an organization that’s working on it. Or get up–away from your computer–and go do some volunteer work. If you love your family, get off the computer and spend some time with them. Call them on the phone and have an actual conversation with them if they live too far away to visit regularly.
It’s not just that I’m a curmudgeon (although I’m sure that’s part of it), but those memes are often part of a marketing ploy, especially the ones that want you to ‘like’ something. You see, once a page has enough ‘likes’ it can start posting advertisements to your feed or be sold to someone else who can use it for whatever they want. And if you clicked ‘like’ because you love your kids, you’ve just identified yourself as someone who has kids and who can probably be manipulated into buying things for them out of guilt. I can think of lots of companies that would be willing to shell out some cash for that, and now they get to post things on your wall designed to capitalize on that guilt.
Think I’m paranoid? Well, OK, I am, but that’s only because they really are out to get us.
for profit maximization to better enhance your experience) they also have a link which actively promotes themselves to advertisers. They promise potential advertisers access to “deep insights into moms’ lives” through their many data-collecting surveys. They brag, “CafeMom knows moms. We know how moms feel about eating & sleeping, budgeting & buying, texting & browsing, and so much more. We even know how they feel about sex. We want to help you know moms, too, so please check out our studies below.” And then they list a number of studies based on their online surveys, with a note at the bottom stating, “CafeMom is proud to partner with Qualtrics in the programming, fielding and analysis of our online surveys.” Qualtrics calls itself “the leading global supplier of enterprise data collection and analysis.”
Why does any of this matter? Because you clicked “like” because you love your kids, and now CafeMom posts eight to ten links to articles on your wall everyday, most of them with a thought-provoking question headlining the article, increasing the odds you’ll actually click on the link and read it. And of course, virtually every article link will bring you to the CafeMom website, where their cookies are recording everything you look at, and their discussion threads collect data on your opinions about everything (when you’re not taking those fun surveys). All that information is then analyzed and sold to third party marketers, along with all the personal data you have visible on Facebook or provided when you created a profile on CafeMom.
I’m not trying to pick on CafeMom. If you click “like” because you love your son you’re taken to a page sponsored by Circle of Moms, whose advertising page is run by PopSugar (“Where Content and Commerce Collide”). They try to lure potential advertisers with the promise that they can “reach millions of influential women worldwide with purchasing power.” If you click “like” if you love your daughter, same thing. Loving your husband is a new venture, with its original sponsor (womenlifestyletips.com) no longer active, and its new sponsor (ladieslife.com) inviting you to add your e-mail to the list so you can be notified when they launch. Loving your wife brings you to an Amazon page full of romantic gifts. Of all of them, at least the wife one is honest about what they’re doing.
If you’re not paying for it, you are the product being sold. Remember that the next time you “like” something on Facebook, and don’t allow these manipulative memes to guilt you into reposting something. If you love someone, tell them personally. If you believe in a cause, support it with your time and/or money. Clicking or reposting something on Facebook is doing nothing for maintaining a relationship, and it certainly doesn’t count as activism.
And as far as Jesus is concerned, I’m pretty sure his idea of discipleship goes well beyond “liking” him on Facebook.