Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Sharing isn’t always caring


Last week lots of my lovely friends on Facebook asked me to share a heart on my wall. Some sort of hold-your-finger-down, share-with-your-gal-pals etc to raise awareness for breast cancer. It’s hard to check your breasts when you’re sharing your contact lists. Sorry, but my finger’s too busy sending love hearts to be detecting lumps. Fuck you, Facebook. Get your dirty mitts of my tits. I am all up for checking my breasts. I don’t need you to tell me. Stop patronising me with these pseudo-health-awareness campaigns to get your cyber fingers into my contact list. And using cancer as bait? That’s just wrong. I have given my time to raise money for research, for support services, and to provide some help for women living with breast cancer. I have many friends who have survived breast cancer, and very sadly a few who have died. It’s an emotive issue. Something I care about.

Something my community of friends cares about. So fuck you, Facebook, stop milking the compassion of the sisterhood under the guise of ‘spreading the message’. Facebook doesn’t give a shit about our tits. Facebook wants our wallets. And to get to that little sweet spot Facebook needs your data.

In the world of social media, data are the drug. They underpin the algorithms to create unique marketing campaigns. They know you. They know what you ‘like’. They know what you ‘look’ at. They know what you buy. So for god’s sake, people, wake up! Stop participating in these stupid data-collection campaigns. It’s awkward when someone I like forwards me one of these share-and-care FB sweeps.

I don’t want to be rude but I think if my friends wanted me to check my breasts they’d just tell me. Over coffee. It’s chain mail. And Facebook is full of it. When I was a kid, you’d get a letter in the actual mail, loaded with passive aggressive threats. ‘Mr Smith in Essex ignored this letter, and he was dead in a week, but Beryl Goodman in the USA forwarded her letter to nine friends and she won the lottery just days after licking her last stamp.’

I remember tediously writing out letters by hand, and sharing these veiled threats of good and evil to wreck the days of people I knew. I never won the lottery. And just a week after sending the letters out my dog died. They said not to use carbon paper. It had to be handwritten. For years I thought I’d killed the family dog with my laziness. Chain letters, like technology, have evolved. They tend not to use threats of death to make us complicit in these stupid group send-outs. Instead Facebook uses emotional manipulation. Like this one I received a few weeks back:

‘Everyone says: “If you need anything, don’t hesitate, I’ll be there for you”. I’m going to make a bet, without being pessimistic, that out of my Facebook friends that fewer than five will take the time to put this on their wall to help raise awareness of and for those who have mental health difficulties. You just have to copy it from my wall and paste it to yours (hold down on my post and you will be given the option to copy… then go to your status and hold down to paste). Please write “done” under my comments when you do! I’ve done this for a friend for Mental Health Awareness DONE!!’

Okay so now we are raising awareness for Mental Health by using online bullying. It’s Manipulate for Mental Health! Share shaming. If you share, you care. If you don’t share, you don’t care. Ironically, bullying is an emotional technique that has been linked with creating mental illness. I don’t want to underestimate the importance of mental-health awareness. But I can’t see how posting this changes lives. It’s insulting.

People living with schizophrenia do not have their lives altered because you shared a post on mental health. It’s what we actually do in our lives with real people that makes a difference. If you actually want to do something about mental health, go volunteer at a soup kitchen, stop in the street and have a chat with the guy talking to himself outside the IGA, donate some money to BeyondBlue.

By the way, if you like my rant, share it. Share it by not sharing shit.

Want to learn to write opinion? Mandy Nolan still has two spots left in her opinion writing workshop conducted at her home on Tuesday 21 Feb from 9.30am–4pm. Enquiries to [email protected]


6 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Sharing isn’t always caring”

  1. Janice Dutton says:

    Thanks for taking the guilt out of not sharing!!!

  2. Ali Rayner says:

    My feelings exactly!
    Thank you Mandy!

    To all my chain post loving girl friends, this is why I don’t send on these impersonal little messages. Not because I don’t care, but because I care more about these issues than this. I’m not going to just post this and think job well done, I’ve made a difference. I’m going to work every day to make a real difference.
    I also respect my friends more than imposing these little viral guilt trips on them.

    Some of my fb friends never talk to me, except to send these things. If you think that is being a good friend, or any sort of friend, you are wrong.

    Through convenience, FB has made us anti-social. I had more REAL friends when I wasn’t on FB.
    What have we become? We are the product not the customer. And it feels cheap and dirty and empty.

  3. Martin Harbour says:

    The “cut and paste” is a scam I’m led to believe, the originator can trace everyone who does this and it helps with hacking and identity theft, a list of all your friends etc. Whenever I see 97% of you won’t I don’t!

  4. Rose Fox says:

    Well said Mandy! Once again you’ve perfectly articulated something I’ve been vaguely thinking, as I try not to feel guilty for not participating in the modern equivalent of chain letters as you point out. I know the friends who send me these “share if you care” posts mean well, and would probably be horrified that they were mostly enabling FB to expand its business model. So from now on I’ll decline to share without wondering if I’m really a bad person who simply doesn’t “care”.

  5. Io(S)T says:

    As a person who is not caring, never sharing and not even on facebook, I bet not one of any of you Goody Two Shoes even read this sad little post…. and if you do, you probably won’t share it… and if you do share, Im gonna be confused as to whether you shared because you took Mandy’s advice and don’t think it’s shit or shared it because it is shit and you think that sharing shit will also support Mandy by showing how shit sharing is or even worse, you disagree with Mandy and so think sharing shit is worthy for shit’s sake.

    the internet sux… and im grateful to have this outlet to share that fact with every sucker who reads shit on the internet.
    Mandy – help me!

  6. Louise Frare says:

    Bloody fabulous! Been saying this for ages……get off your buts and DO something.
    But the issue goes even further….donating to charity most of the time does sweet f-all to really help those in need.
    What does make a difference is getting involved. Volunteer for community transport etc. or better yet…. Find someone in need and just be their friend.
    I love Facebook for seeing pics of my family and for social groups etc….. But sharing shit is just shit.
    Cheers to Mandy who says it like it is!

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