Are we a nation of blind and irresponsible ‘forwards’ or can we do better?
With Facebook & Twitter, and now WhatsApp Groups, this horrible trend of sharing information that comes to us without verifying the source or the veracity of the information has increased exponentially. We end the forward with ‘As received’, as if that absolves us of any responsibility. Does it?
Ridiculous rumours, harmful gossip, personal information, fake news, and just plain stupid lies get peddled around in forwards that don’t see an end. ‘Type Amen’.
But perhaps the most harmful of these, are well intentioned posts about cancer, developmental disorders and mental health issues that are pushed around and then people are asked to share on their status as ‘awareness’.
In the last few months, one such post attempts to shame a person who is considering suicide. The post talks about the possible effect of this person’s suicide on everyone else in their life, including that bully, and the teacher who was hard on him. In essence, the post tells the depressed person that ‘Suicide is Selfish’.
I suppose there may be several versions of this post. The bottom line of it is that it never once addresses the depressed person’s pain, but instead attempts to shame them into not committing suicide.
One thing is absolutely obvious, the person who wrote it has NO understanding of depression or suicide. They have no comprehension of mental illness, otherwise, they would not attempt to use such a triggering piece of prose to ‘raise awareness’ or ‘stop suicide’.
I tried to find the words to deal with the shaming part of the ‘Suicide is Selfish’ post, but I think Chris Lyimo’s words are a lot more organised than my thoughts.
I’m concerned about that suicide awareness post doing the rounds in this FB hood.
If a suicidal person was to read that post, I can promise you, it would just drive them deeper into the depression (a mental health, and not a moral, issue), make them feel more guilty and ashamed of the impact that their miserable state may have on everyone else. The irrationality that accompanies depression would just hasten the suicide route.
They don’t want to end their lives; it’s the pain, people. It’s the pain that they can’t stand.
They have gone beyond the instinct of self-preservation.
~ Chris Lyimo
Anyone who shares the ‘Suicide is Selfiah’ displays the same amount of ignorance, or callousness as the person who wrote it.
I call it callousness because basic common sense could tell you that a person crippled with depression needs compassion and support, not shaming and more bullying.
I just saw a person on a conversation discussing this type of post say that she shared the post for ‘dialogue’. This absolves her of responsibility for any harm the post might cause because she shared the post to start up a conversation on depression and suicide. Really?
In what universe, does it make sense to use harmful material to do good?
This brings me back to all those pieces of fake news, rumours, graphic videos etcetera that we share ‘as received’ without verifying, and then imagine that we do not have any responsibility when those posts cause harm.
Why would you share something that could potentially hurt someone who you count as a friend, just so other friends can ‘dialogue’ about it? What makes you think you have no ethical responsibility with regards to information you forward ‘as received’, if it will reach an audience who will react solely on that piece of information, with positive or negative results?
We are in an election year, so I can only expect more of these. Propaganda, fake news designed to propagate ideology, fan tribal hate, generate physical violence… Do you really think you will escape responsibility because you did not design the material and simply forwarded it ‘As Received’?
There might not be any consequences directed at you for sharing ‘as received’, but there will definitely be consequences somewhere along the line. Who is responsible?
Are we a nation of irresponsible forwarders, or can we do better? Do we have ethical and moral responsibility with regards to the information we share on our social media accounts?