On this group people post questions, jokes and all sorts of deeply boring and mundane stuff. None of them seem to have heard of Google and few of them are able to spell. But you know. Whatever. I can be tolerant. What? I CAN.
Today someone posted about the distressing pictures on Facebook. She said that she was sick of seeing them and that Facebook is her fun place and people are ruining it. Her point was that Facebook is meant to be fun (says who, like? I don't remember anyone specifying what Facebook is 'for', other than to strip us of our personal information while gilding the lily with cat pictures and stupid memes).
So, yer one says about how icky it is to see pictures of horrible things happening and shouldn't people stop all this nonsense and make sure that all she can see on her feed are pictures of babies and fairies. Or whatever it is that people like to look at. I dunno. 90% of my feed is made up of dog pictures, dog blogs, dog videos, amusing dog anecdotes and friends that like dogs.
She is talking, I believe, particularly about the recent influx of pictures showing deeply distressed, crying, dying, howling refugees desperately trying to get their families to safety. The picture of the boy, face down in the sand. Dead at 12. Dead for want of asylum.
I mean, I can totes see how those put a crimp on your day.
Naturally I got involved. Because I just can never let it lie. Man, I miss Vic and Bob.
My points are nothing particularly spectacular. If you have a shred of humanity, that is. This appropriation of Facebook as something that 'should' do this or 'shouldn't' do that fascinates me. People talk like they have a say. Like they bought a product. And they're SO indignant.
That's what I like about Facebook.
My life is small. My worries are small. I've managed to turn them into a full blown anxiety disorder because I am that special. But I don't have to worry about my safety on a daily basis. I don't have to live in a tent because my home is no longer safe. I don't have to risk my life trying to get my children somewhere where they won't be blown to bits. I will never have to experience being TURNED AWAY for help, because I was born in the wrong place.
And, while I wake up and dither about my day, with all my worries and stresses about work and clients and money and yada yada, I scroll through Facebook. Like most people I've customised my feed so that I only see what I want to see.
A metaphor for life innit.
It's simple in our world, over here, where we're safe, to switch off. Just watch Netflix and eat cake. Concentrate on our own. Breathe in and out. Get through the day. Hope our loved ones remain safe, well and happy for another 24 hours. And then have some wine.
I scroll through my feed and like what I see. Friends that make me laugh and interesting things and books and author profiles and cat pictures and dog videos.
And, every now and again BLAM. A dead child. A crying father.
Like a slap round the face.
I knew about the Syrian crisis. Of course I did. I'm a sentient human being with eyes and ears. But until I saw the image of the crying father in the boat the other week, it didn't HIT me in the solar plexus. This is happening right now. We are watching a humanitarian crisis unfold on our doorstep. I believe it's going to affect every single one of us in the long term, and we are witnessing the beginning of some profound and uncomfortable changes.
With no guidance from our own government, with no humanity in the good leaders of our country, what else can we do but band together with the technology on hand and at least TRY. We shouldn't look away and we shouldn't stop sharing images. Because for every person that scrolls past or ignores it, someone somewhere will do something to help.
I saw a Spectator piece today moaning about how sharing a picture of a dead child does nothing for anyone and it's just narcissistic. His point, I believe, is that many, many people stop at the sharing. But many, many DON'T. They actually do something, no matter how small it feels on a global scale.
I'm rubbish and self absorbed and full of worries about the day's work, so naturally I didn't get it together to work out a way I could help anyone. Any of these people in the pictures. But Facebook showed me someone who is. Someone local who is collecting and helping. And now I'm donating to that. And yes, maybe it is some way of trying to alleviate Western guilt at the fact that I'm not suffering, but SO WHAT. It's better than turning away.
And that's why I will never hide these pictures from my Facebook feed and my everyday life.
As for the girl whose question sparked this train of thought with her question, I explained to her the concept of customising her feed. Genuinely blew her mind. AMAZING.