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]‘