The world in general has fallen into a profound chaos. People have opinions and reactions to changes in government and policy, and have been all over social media about it. That’s fine—that is what social media is for.
However, we should be wary and aware, and that’s a problem. Even the non-political, ‘poverty porn’ version of speaking out is getting to be too much. It often goes to train us to react without being selective. We allow ourselves to be manipulated emotionally, responding with fear, resentment, and frequently perpetuates ignorance simply because there is no substance. No one bothers to look for facts before reacting—it spoils the moment. And we love to react—it dulls the boredom and feeling of powerlessness that fill many lives.
Much of the manipulation comes straight from the ‘So You Want To Be A Narcissist’ school of thought. Fear, shame, guilt, even subtle intimidation are all employed.
- ‘I’ll bet none of my friends will copy and paste this.’
- ‘Type Yes/Amen and repost if you agree.’
- ‘If you scroll past this post without typing Amen and reposting, you will go to Hell.’
A few months ago I was almost suckered into a ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ scheme by replying to a nonsensical posting someone had made. In a private message I was instructed to continue the inanity and say something stupid in order to raise awareness of breast cancer, but I was not to mention the scheme or breast cancer anywhere in my response.
There are pointless efforts made to gain support. ‘Post this on your timeline for one hour to Support Law Enforcement.’ ‘Copy and Paste this to your page if you agree.’ How has support for Law Enforcement been shown? How many people visit your timeline in one hour? What does this sort of support or awareness raising mean?
I would also like to mention the shameless ways that some people will try to get you to read their posts. ‘You won’t believe…!’ or ‘…she never expected to see this!’ ‘Guess what happened next!’ I have never failed to be disappointed; if she really ‘never expected’, she should have paid better attention, and frankly, I couldn’t be less interested in what happened next. This style of manipulation is a particular bane to me, both personally, and as a writer.
What is more to the point is substantive awareness raising. If you want to raise awareness of women’s issues, or breast cancer, or the recognizing the narcissist in action, post something that is genuinely informative. As an example of what I mean, there is a young woman, a fellow writer, with a son who has CDH—congenital diaphragmatic hernia. This is life-threatening congenital defect of the diaphragm in which abdominal organs are pushed into the chest cavity, inhibiting lung formation. I never heard of it, but she posted actual information that was helpful in making me genuinely aware. She has left it to the reader whether or not to repost her information. Factual information is more appealing than emotional bile.
We’ve been thrust into an era in which we need to be careful about what we read and believe. Train yourself not to be distracted by unhealthy and unhelpful posts. Look for the signs of manipulation. Learn to be discerning and selective. This needn’t continue to be the dark time it has become, and we don’t need to enable those who try to exploit us emotionally.
And for heaven’s sake, if you agree, do NOT type Amen and repost!
Paul TN Chapman
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