In South Korea, there are people who show up at protests for the sole purpose of taking selfies to make it look like they care. They know nothing about what is being protested because they are too wrapped up in their own vanity and self obsession. Americans may see this story in the news and laugh at those silly Koreans, but it provides a parallel to our self absorbed, social media driven culture.
Not a week goes by where I don’t see a post on a social media site with a sob story that ends in ‘like (or RT) if you have a heart,’ and I don’t even use social media that often. These thinly veiled solicitations for attention are often heavily liked because people are excessively interested in how others perceive them, and they feel bad about the story, but are too lazy to do anything that would help. They feel that if they don’t ‘like’ the post, people will judge them and make assumptions about their character. Newsflash: no one cares except for you.
They are also often too lazy to do any research on the story to find out if it is even true. A well-known example of this is Kony 2012: thousands of people shared the video and boo-hooed about the victims when it was completely blown out of proportion. Like the common sheep, they experienced a visceral reaction to the video, and they jumped on the sympathy bandwagon without doing any further investigating into the organization or the man himself.
Instead of just liking that picture of a puppy without limbs to show that you care about animals, volunteer at your local animal rescue shelter or donate to a good charity. If you really want other people to know just how much you care, buy a shirt or a bumper sticker from a store where they send the proceeds to a charity. If it’s a post about a political issue, participate in a protest or write to your local politicians. Don’t just spread around a picture of a dead fetus to make your friends regret following you. Be proactive and bring about change, large or small. Contribute to something larger than yourself, and be a real activist.
Do something that’s not entirely self-serving for once, and you might grow up a little.