Regaling at how disingenuous he feels it is, Mark Chu is pissed at the Jill Meagher Facebook tribute page, despite its apparent good intentions.
The RIP Jill Meagher Facebook page is fucked up. It shocks me that these pages exist and that people think that liking the page or one of the photos put up there is any sign of sincerity, devotion or conscious dedication to a cause.
When I last checked it, the status said to copy and paste a love heart symbol into the comment section below in order to show support for the people of Boston, in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing. This is fucked up. We’re living in a world where people think if they select a 5-pixel high black love heart, hit control-C, drag their mouse, click again, then hit control-V, this is an act of kindness and compassion – that this copy-paste is doing a good thing. There is so little dignity in these acts, they’re so throwaway, so temporary. It’s the cheapest form of care, when previously bottoming out so low was not even possible.
How did we get like this? How did we get to a place where our laziness and hunger for convenience has so disgustingly intersected with genuine tragedy and concerns of death and suffering?
That love-heart may or may not be seen by anyone affected by the Boston bombings and I feel like no one who pasted the loveheart into the comment section actually gives a shit. There is no accountability on these pages, no demand for genuine action, or genuine help or support. People click, like, copy, paste, message and bicker amongst themselves to satisfy their own need to show that indeed, they are compassionate, that they are caring. But how are these acts real acts of care? The overarching ethos is a totally shallow sympathy. It might be argued that a small amount of care in a day, a second devoted to thinking about this, a click and a like, is better than nothing at all, but this is delusion – these shallow sympathies deny more genuine concern. Two thousand likes doesn’t mean 2000 people haranguing councils about legislation on violence; indeed, it may mean the opposite. The mentality, conscious or unconscious, goes, ‘Look at this tragedy, isn’t this terrible, I’m going to like the Facebook page, I’m supporting the cause, I’m doing my bit, this is enough.’
The truth is that it’s so close to doing nothing that the gesture is negligible. Indeed, it has an ugly side-effect, that sense of puff-chested pride at that momentary flicker of outrage. ‘I’ve done my bit, but I’m proud that I have, and the evidence is there, it comes up on my feeds.”
Yes, not everyone is in a position to provide tangible aid or support to Jill Meagher’s family or to the people of Boston, and Facebook pages like this one can act as gestures. But how cheaply do these gestures come? Is a gesture genuine if it comes so easily? There is so much distance between the tragedy and the clicked ‘like on Facebook. It’s so abstracted that it becomes much more about an indulged self-circulating boast of compassion than any genuine support.
Is any of the commentary on the page worthwhile or is it just empty rhetoric that supports other empty rhetoric?
Quite simply, Facebook is not the forum for it when people are posting line after line of garbled inflammation about heavy ideas like the death penalty and cross-cultural valuations of life, side-by-side with an ironic profile picture of Mini-Me holding his finger to his lips, one eyebrow cocked.