A new years wish for a kinder, gentler facebook

Fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with a pair of red lips lighting up the structureIt’s the new year and time to make – and break – resolutions.

I’ve decided not to make any resolutions this year. But then, I never make any new year’s resolutions so why start now. But I do have some hopes for the year ahead.

Top of my list would be an end to child abuse. Whether its tribal warfare, third world sweat shops, US drone attacks, the Catholic church, paedophilia or abuse within the family can we please just stop hurting children. And start teaching them to read!

I know that’s a big ask, and it’s not likely to happen anytime soon, so I’ll start with something a bit closer to home.

If we can’t have a kinder, gentler world can we at least have a kinder, gentler facebook!

I joined facebook for what I think was its purpose. To keep up with family and friends. But somewhere along the way it seems to have turned into a vehicle to incite hatred.

Somehow my newsfeed, which should be posts, photos and conversations about what people I know are doing, gets clogged up with posts that contain wrong information about particular groups of people (or individuals), and that seem designed to spread hatred of those groups (or individuals).

And they carry the command “like in less than 3 seconds”, or ….

What if I take longer than 3 seconds to respond? What will happen? Will the sick child die? Will Julia Gillard suddenly be appointed Prime Minister for life? No, of course not.

There is a reason they ask you to like in less than 3 seconds. It’s because they really don’t want you to think about what you’re doing, because if you do, most would probably not hit that ‘like’ button. I have friends who are otherwise nice, kind people, good parents and good friends, who have distributed posts that I find extremely offensive.  I have risked – and probably lost – some friendships pointing out the errors of some of those posts.

In response to a few of those that I’ve received in my feed multiple times over the year:

  1. No, I don’t think Julia Gillard is the worst Prime Minister we’ve ever had. Not even close. I’ll leave the judgment of Australia’s worst PM to others who know more about (as opposed to just have an opinion on) the matter. However, I would think any PM who was voted out of his own seat – a blue ribbon seat which he had held for 33 years and which was held by his party since its inception – is probably a nominee. I also don’t think we should refer to the Prime Minister of our country as “that bitch” or “that liar”. She is no more a bitch or liar than most politicians. And it’s disrespectful of the office.
  2. Asylum seekers do not receive more in income support than do Australian pensioners. Not only do they receive far less in direct payments, but they are not allowed to work to support themselves or their family. We also keep them locked up in detention even after they have been found to be genuine refugees, sometimes for years, and then charge them for the cost of keeping them locked up.
  3. No, I don’t think welfare recipients should be mandatorily drug tested. Nor would you if you thought about it for more than 3 seconds. Just about everybody in Australia is a welfare recipient, including:
    1. The unemployed or underemployed on newstart
    2. Parents, both partnered and single, on parenting payment
    3. Parents receiving family tax benefit – despite the name it is paid in cash through the welfare system
    4. Those who give birth or adopt a child and receive the baby bonus
    5. Parents who get the government parental leave payment. Because of a desire for ‘stay at home mothers’ not to miss out on anything this is a welfare payment, not a work-related benefit.
    6. Those with a sickness or disability which prevents them from working, and their carers
    7. War veterans
    8. The aged
    9. Those who are rich enough not to receive one of the above direct payments but get their welfare as “tax deductions”. Oh, stop howling, you know it’s the same thing!

    It’s quite a list and the dynamics of trying to give all those people drug tests is mind boggling. We’d have to employ all the unemployed people to administer it and then what would we be left with? Drug tests for the sick, disabled and old. I think they’d all fail!

So please, everybody, my new year’s request is to stop and think before “liking” or “sharing” any facebook posts. If it contains information you think is abhorrent, please check the facts before sending it on to others. And if you wouldn’t like it said about you or your family, you probably shouldn’t say it about anybody else.

Happy new year!

Permanent link to this article: http://kathswinbourne.com.au/a-new-years-wish-for-a-kinder-gentler-facebook/

1 comment

    • ana74x on January 1, 2013 at 12:21 am

    A nicer facebook would be good, but I’m just about at the point where NO facebook would be even better 😉

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