by Tom Hawyard
My mind, full of ideas and pop tarts.
|May God bless Facebook and all those who use it.
If there is some divine force watching over us from way up above the clouds, then He, She or They will be delighted to find that the social network site that you, your mum, the cook, the thief, the wife and her lover are on- Facebook- has such a religiously utopian core. For whatever event that hits the front pages one day, there is a Facebook group devoted solely to it the next. In fact, that is somewhat of an understatement, or overstatement if you will, because within minutes a group is usually sitting there, waiting in your mini feed, waiting to be assessed.
I say ‘your’ simply because it would be foolish for me to assume that even one person out there doesn’t have a profile on the site. People set up profiles for celebrities, their pets, pubs, clubs, schools and Universities. Recently I even saw a profile for a ‘Mark Watson’s Mum’. Brilliant! Especially if Mrs Watson made it herself.
So, what of it. So people make groups. Who am I to judge? Well, in all honesty, it seems to be the other way around. Case in point, the group ‘Stop Knife Crime…NOW!’ A clear message, one delivered with force and capital letters. Okay so far. A serious problem which needs addressing and which has thousands of people supporting the solution to it. Fair as fair can be.
However, (and this is where my line draws), I firmly believe that people set up groups in order to simply have high numbers in them. Cynical to think, yes. Completely false, no. At the bottom of these group descriptions we are faced with ‘invite as many as you can!!’ And this is where I enter stage.
The invite fills my screen. Now, happy as I am to help stop knife crime, I don’t feel my joining a Facebook group to suggest it stops will help the cause. Also, I only become part of a group that I contribute to, or intend to at some point. The knife crime group is something I wouldn’t actually add anything to in any way apart from an extra number. This isn’t one of those ‘if I don’t vote it wont matter, it’s only one person‘ sort of thing. It’s a legitimate belief that I am simply a number.
So I choose not to join. But it’s not that simple. There isn’t a ‘No’ button, there’s an ‘ignore’ button. All of a sudden I’m not just politely declining to join the war on knives via Facebook, I’m ignoring knife crime. I’m ignoring tragedy, and ignoring the pain of those involved. Which I deny. I’m not ignoring it, I’m saying no to a group about it. That is entirely different.
The second issue I have with this is that most of my friends fall for this. They see the ‘ignore’ button as a sign of, well, tyranny is the only word I can think of. They join so others don’t have to see that they didn’t join. It doesn’t announce groups you decline invitations to, but at least one person will know. The person who invited you. Who, I have noticed, is always someone I don’t necessarily know that well. Not only am I an acquaintance, I’m an evil one.
When Heath Ledger died, around fifty groups devoted to the tragic actor sprung up. Why weren’t all those on the groups united into one? Or those who created them just more interested in being a number on another similar group? Surely all of the group’s members added together means more than dozens of separate forums? Or am I really just evil? Even Mark Watson’s Mum wouldn’t ignore knife crime. And her profile isn’t even real. Unless…