Fore warned: Turns out I am going to rave and rant in this post too/two posts in a row. This isn't planned for your discomfort, it just turned out that way.
Arm-twisted by the desire to spread the good news that I was blogging and needed an audience, I joined up on Facebook. My password betrays my reluctance—it is something along the lines of 'icantbelieveihavegotsodesperate113'. I fully expected to see pictures of my friends' children, cats, drunken exploits and holiday antics. But I didn't expect to be scrolling through the everyday only to be confronted with a skeletal picture of a dog. Graphic, disturbing. I can't remember the exact circumstances except to say that the poor thing had ended up in a rubbish skip or similar for a very long time, unable, possibly through to injury, to get out, and that when found it was still alive but in this horrible condition. I was shocked and very saddened. And this is where the raving begins. Because thousands of people, in a show of solidarity against, and abhorrence toward, the perpetrator of this horrible act had 'Liked' the post. 'Like' in the Facebook world loses its normal meaning, but I still have trouble accepting the liking of bad or distressful news. It emphasises, to me, a removed and superficial emotional attatchment to what happens in the world around us, to what happens to our fellow man and beast. But what irks me most of all, is that it gives the 'liker' the impression that in making a 'like' protest, they are doing something meaningful. I'll say 'to me' again because maybe I am getting it all wrong, but to me it seems that 'liking' atrocities becomes a substitute for taking meaningful action, as a society, against the wrong that befalls it. It has, to me, the equivalent value of carbon offsetting—it justifies changing nothing in your behaviour while at the same time alleviating your guilt!
The threat today is not passivity, but psuedo-activity, the urge to 'be active', to 'participate', to mask the nothingness of what goes on.*I am being harsh. There are lots and lots of people who go out of their way to make their convictions real. And, as I sat and looked at this awful picture that I didn't want to see, I couldn't even begin to say what it was I needed to actually do to have a meaningful reaction, and consequent action, to what had happened. It reminded me of how helpless we feel against what happens to us. Or others. The sad thing is that, properly directed, that people power, those thousands of 'likes', could change things. We forget that governments work for us, not the other way around. We have allowed our ability to personally act to be taken away from us: we don't have to be responsible for anything. We throw money at things. There is always someone we will pay to do what needs to be done—fixing our cars, looking after our children, building our Ikea furniture, stopping world hunger, fixing the hole in the ozone layer. And we have gotten so small in our communities—possibly even so that each community in the modern first-world numbers exactly one inhabitant—that we have forgotten what we can do as a group. What we can do meaningfully, not just as a token thumbs-up on a social network.
But here I falter again. What should we do? What stops that poor dog ending up dumped in a skip? How do we stop a person from regarding life, any life, as so worthless that an action like that is justifiable to them? Maybe it gets down to not accepting it, any of it. If all you want to do is click a button, then do it on something that will make a difference—like Change.org. Start your very own petition even—My Petition. If you can be bothered getting off the couch, go down to your local elected members office and talk to them about what it is you need changed and how to go about it. Volunteer. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I could positively do is get into politics itself and change things that way. But then I look at politicians and wonder if they started by thinking like that and ended up how we see them now. Maybe all you can do is introduce yourself to your neighbour. And then the one on the other side. Take an interest in what matters to them and help and support them in those things. Already that's a community of three. But will the only people who'll do that be people who want to make a difference? Are we already too late because in the bigger scheme of things so many people just don't care enough to care. How very sad.