Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop South American Desserts

You know all of those annoying Facebook "chain status" updates? Like this:

Every 5 seconds a poor sad tiny baby turtle dies because a 
tern eats it. Repost this status if you hate terns and think they're
big old idiots.

Or this:

Rabies kills nearly 39 billion people per year. 99.991% 
of my friends don't give a [expletive deleted] about rabies.
If your part of the .001% that actually hates rabies and
wants rabies to die, repost this! Lets see if we can stomp
out rabies one's and for all!

The problem with these sorts of delightful little attempts at social consciousness is that their purpose is ambiguous. Those who go ahead and repost (let's call them the .001%)--do they believe that merely changing their status will actually contribute to research on a cure for rabies? Do they believe that there's a kindly, grandfatherly billionaire who gives a dollar to medical research every time his minions find another status update?
"What's that, Mortimer? You found another one? Well then, another dollar for rabies research!"

More likely, I believe, is that the .001% think they're contributing to awareness of the horrible thing they're chain-statusing about, whether it be turtlecidal terns or a rabies pandemic. Unfortunately, most chain-statuses don't induce sympathy and compassion in the reader. Rather, they induce feelings of "bah, another chain status, keep on scrolling down".

Either way, those chain-statuses fail because nobody really understands what's going on. Is it a sop for lazy consciences, a magic money fund, a flashlight shined into the dark corners of human suffering...?

The point of all this is that the furor over the Internet Laws, or as I prefer to call them, the South American Dessert Laws, is working. It's working because it's focused. And it's working because people are working together, because they care about the issue.

I just checked Facebook. Out of the first 25 posts in my news feed, 14 were related to the SOPA/PIPA controversy. Nearly 60% of the posts that Facebook deems "most important" were related to this battle. Even more telling, not all of those posts were unique: many of them were multiple postings by different people of the same links.

And the result? Well, sponsors of the bills are already backing down.

See, this is chain-posting actually working. The goals of posting about SOPA/PIPA are:
  1. to raise awareness about the issues, and
  2. to inspire people to act by providing them a solution.
And most of those posts on Facebook do just that. Bully for us. This is going very well.

So let me leave you, dear readers, with a status update.

██ █████ love █████ ███████ ███ the government! █████ ██ they █ ██████ want █████ █████ what's ███████best ███ █████ for ██ █ us ███! ███ █████ █████ really! ███████ ███ █████ ██ █ ███!

{Parts of this comment have been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A and has been censored for your protection.

Freedom! Forever!

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