I’m not a fan of Facebook crazes, but you can always rely on them to expose the kind of people you really should cross the street to avoid.
I remember the first time I called BS on it all and lost a couple of ‘friends’ for my trouble (I survived).
It was when the ‘No Make Up Selfie’ did the rounds. The idea being that women post selfies wearing no make up to raise awareness and to raise money by donating to cancer research. It started well, people were posting their selfie beside a screenshot of their donation with the number other people could text to do the same. Only by the time it got to my timeline nobody seemed to be posting the number to donate, or the screenshot of their donation. Instead my timeline was taken over by selfies of people who I hadn’t ever met who seemed to be under the impression that a photo of them with no mascara on would somehow make the world aware of this awful disease that they obviously had never heard of previously whilst people I did know told them how gorgeous they looked.
What had no doubt started as a genuine attempt to raise awareness and some much needed funds had turned into a narcissistic exercise in posting a pic where the obligatory ‘I look terrible/awful/OMG’ type comment was made before sittingback and waiting for the ‘you look amazing hun’ comments to roll in.
I questioned the relevance, a) because I really hate selfies, seriously I know what my friends look like and they are far prettier without the duck face pose and b) because I felt it was incredibly distasteful to hijack a genuine attempt at doing something good simply in order for people to have their ego stroked. Some took offence and unfriended me (I think, it took several months before I noticed they’d actually gone!) but most agreed or didn’t say anything at all, which brings me to the latest fad. The Facebook Motherhood Challenge.
I have no strong feelings either way about this one. I love seeing pics of my friends and their lovely children (that is the point of Facebook for me) but I’m acutely aware that several of my friends have experienced loss either through miscarriage or stillbirth or are experiencing infertility and were finding these unsolicited posts difficult to deal with although they would never have approached any of the mums who were posting the pics with those thoughts.
In the spirit of solidarity with them, when I was tagged I posted a link to SANDS instead and soon I noticed that a couple of friends of mine had blogged about how The Facebook Motherhood Challenge had made them feel. Never in a million years would I have expected them to receive a backlash for it but I’d clearly forgotten about how the internet can be a haven for people who have a desire to lash out at complete strangers who have the audacity to be capable of independent thought.
I read the blogs and thought they were reasoned, sensitive and non-confrontational accounts of the feelings they are entitled to have and to express. They didn’t criticise or belittle the mums who had chosen to post their selfies with their children, more that they invited people to consider the people on their timelines, their actual friends, who may be finding things equally as difficult. The responses truly shocked me, and I’m not easy to shock.
I saw people actually laughing at the thought of someone finding the constant stream of motherhood challenge selfies upsetting. I saw them calling them horrible, unkind names and even posting links to a satirical story referencing ‘childless infertile women who should be banished to live with wolves’. It should be noted that these were professional women who I had once respected. It stunned me to think that we could live in a society where people could actually demonstrate such a lack of compassion or empathy, or sisterhood simply because the view these brave women had shared by baring their souls had made other women feel uncomfortable.
What have we become?
Voltaire had it right by saying ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’. But then again they didn’t have Facebook in those days.