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comment by user-inactivated
user-inactivated  ·  1208 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: #PrayForParis: When Empathy Becomes a Memex 2

    A perfect solution for the average human.

I agree, 100%. Without the cynicism.

So here's the deal. Whether you want to admit it or not, we are all in our own ways painfully average. In comparison to the whole, we're all in the middle of the pack. The things that make us as individuals unique and successful, be they intelligence, athleticism, skill sets, or character, are meaningless when we stop focusing on individuals.

Everyone always wants to point out places like Facebook and say "Look at it. It's full of idiots." Shit, if we're being honest, I've done it from time to time and though I try not to, I'll probably do it again down the future. But, well, yeah. Duh. If intelligence is the metric you want to focus on, the majority of Facebook is going to fall short. Know what? Facebook is full of unathletic chumps too. It's full of morally questionable people. It's full of people who don't have one iota of musical talent. It's full of people who don't know the first thing about fixing a computer or wrenching on a car. But that's because you're looking at Facebook as a whole. Stop. Look at each, individual person on there, and look at them seriously, and you'll see that Facebook, like Hubski, like Reddit, like 4Chan, like your local bar, like any place that people decide to congregate, is full of amazing, fascinating, wonderful people. You might not like certain groups of people as a collective whole, but if you take them away from that group, view them in the lense of an individual, you'll see that maybe they're not so bad.

So let's look at Facebook, let's look at this "solidarity" shit that they pull. It's so easy to point at them, to criticise them, and say "Ha. They're showing solidarity by clicking a button. It does nothing." However, you're wrong.

For one, it does show solidarity. It shows that we understand that horrible things happen in the world and that we as a collective whole are saddened by it and don't condone it one bit. Look at all those countries with their citizens waving tiny little American flags after 9/11. It was the world saying "America, we don't always love your government but we love your people." It's a small gesture individually, but when enough people do it as a collective whole, it becomes something big and has the potential for good. Think of charity. Your individual dollars are near useless (unless you're a big giver like Bill Gates). However, the collective dollars of a whole community suddenly has the power to bring about results.

Two, it brings awareness to issues and creates dialog. Awareness and dialog are two big keys towards education. Education is one of the most important keys to bringing about change. If you're looking at seeing the whole world overnight change on a single issue, you're going to be sadly disappointed. However, every time people rally around something, enough individuals change to start having a ripple effect. Look at the polls focusing on gay marriage between the early 2000s and now. People change as individuals and that individual change can eventually change the world.

Three, it allows people who in situations like these would normally feel powerless and helpless to at least feel something. Let's face it. What have any single one of us on Hubski done to help out in Paris? Nothing. The events still affect us though. They cause us to feel worry, sadness, shame. The people on Facebook aren't any different. They're feeling the same thing. Clicking that button though, for them, let's them feel they're doing something, however small. You wanna say it's meaningless? I say it makes them feel a little bit better and all of that collective betterness, as a whole, has meaning and purpose.

We're focusing on the wrong thing. Stop focusing on what Facebook does poorly and instead focus on what it can do well. Facebook is full of average people. If we want to look at it in hopes of finding shining examples of exceptionalism, we're going to have a bad time. However, as a platform of the masses, if steered in the right direction by chance, it could easily have a large impact. Hubski on the other hand has a different set of flaws. It's full of great, intelligent people. It's very small though. Think a crazy donation drive to combat global hunger would get very far from Hubski's support? No. Of course not.

We need to stop focusing on what makes groups shitty in an effort to make ourselves feel superior. These people are our neighbors and they need our love and encouragement. We should stop saying "They did something good because they're selfish." We're all selfish. We're animals. It's part of how we get by in the world. The thing is though good deeds, large or small, even if done for selfish reasons, are still good deeds and they can bring about good things. Finally, we should stop saying that something is useless because it has no discernible, immediate effect, whether it's prayer, a solidarity button, or what have you. The fact is, those acts come from a good place in the human heart and promoting that kind of behavior promotes thoughts that encourage us to be better people.

Let's face it. We're all shitty people. Anything we can do, to be slightly less shitty, shouldn't be shat upon.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  1200 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Anything we can do, to be slightly less shitty, shouldn't be shat upon.

Being less shitty and feeling less shitty are different things. Expressing forced condolences under the pressure of the social contract is the glue that holds the society together while, in fact, most people don't care so much as to provide a proper matter of attention to the situation and/or to affect it or its aftermath somehow.

People sitting at home and expressing feeling sorry for what happened helps whom and how? I can imagine that feeling the public support might help the surviving victims of whatever happened (I'm out of the loop on this one) or their surviving close ones. The "sorreeĢs" will feel better about themselves, having taken part in a good-will movement. What thereafter?

I'm not talking about ensuing donations. Great! It will probably help the victims (if there is, indeed, such a need for being helped - medical bills and othersuch), and it will have a real effect on the situation: someone will benefit from that. Could it exist without the wave of "I commiserate"? I don't know. I hope it could: as shitty as human beings are, I sure hope we're not that shitty, - but I don't know. I'm not talking about any sort of volunteering, either: if it indeed changes the situation for the better, I support it.

Is it cynical? Yes, it probably is. I am quite in that mood for people who do something and assume that they do good simply by the virtue of saying a few contractually-obliged words. It rubs me the wrong way when someone claims to be doing good without actually doing it. It's not meant to be an offence towards you, rd95, for I don't believe you claim anything of such matter. I don't mean to shit on attempts of people to do actual good: I mean to put to light the fact that not everything that feels good is good.

user-inactivated  ·  1198 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Feeling good is good. The way we think and the way we feel has a direct impact on how we navigate through life. When we are angry and frustrated, we have a tendency to act negatively. When we are content and hopeful, we have a tendency to act positively. How we act affects others, it ripples out from us and we often don't even notice it. If someone shares condolences to alleviate some of their negative feelings, they're doing themselves good. Further more, if their condolences create an atmosphere of caring and community, they are doing others good. Even if people say something out of a sense of obligation, they're showing that they care enough to say something, otherwise they wouldn't feel obligated to say anything at all.

Are there better ways to do right by the world and have a greater impact on your community? Absolutely. It doesn't take much effort to go out and contribute positively and I encourage you to do what you think you can to do so. Don't dismiss the little things though, because sometimes even they make all the difference in the world.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  1198 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe I am dismissing the little things about it; maybe a part of me thinks that rather than doing little you better do nothing at all or go big, in a rather black-and-white perception of it.

Still. It bothers me that we encourage such superficial nonsense. Click a button, and you're abolished of your sins of uncaring. One's encouraged to say a few words and thinks of themselves as, indeed, doing something of value, when the fact is - their words are not of any value. What creates the atmosphere of caring is caring, not some memorized phrases uttered over and over. You'll show caring whether you use the phrases; it won't be a choice but a manner of acting.

I don't mind people saying whatever they truly feel about an event. In fact, I encourage it. That being said, it's hard for me to believe that a meme phrase is capable of conveying true feelings of any person - otherwise, the person in question is too flat to exist. I will believe it when someone says "I'm angry at those assholes doing the evil acts". I'll believe someone saying "I feel so sorry for the victims of the events". Believing that one "#praysforparis" I'm incapable of.