Sunday, July 24, 2016

Facebook faces

It's not OK
                These two faces were the first to greet me today when I opened up Facebook: a smiling baby giraffe, already with more than 2 million likes, and an unsmiling (if beautiful) Maori woman fronting the 2016 'It's not OK' campaign against family violence in NZ, with about 800 likes.

The 'likes' reflect a somewhat sad if understandable order of priorities in favour of the smiling and innocuous over the unsmiling and challenging, an order of priorities that Facebook undoubtedly embraces and exacerbates. Also, animals, at least giraffes, are global, whereas campaigns against domestic violence are local, even if the violence is global and probably won't be reduced significantly until a global campaign is mounted to expose and prevent it.

Still, I 'liked' the smiling giraffe, partly because I like the woman who shared it, but also, no doubt, because, like most people, I find it easy to smile at the innocuous and cute -- if perhaps not quite as easy as some do. I did hesitate before 'liking' the smiling giraffe.

But unlike most people, I also 'liked' (and shared) the unsmiling face of the anti-domestic violence campaign, after reading the full article attached and appreciating its mission to expose the sexist nature of violence in the home more so, it seems to me, than in previous campaigns of the sort in this country. We are making progress, however slow, and that made me smile too.

Together, these juxtaposed faces that ultimately got me smiling today, also got me thinking about the value of Facebook in our lives, a question Facebook asked us to consider directly some months back. A question I chose not to answer at the time, because I couldn't decide whether it was a positive or a negative force. I was leaning towards the negative.

Today I'm inclined to come out in favour of Facebook overall, though only if it continues to expose, in a constructive way, the most difficult and unsmiling issues of our times, and perhaps does a little less to promote animal and selfie-love at the expense of these issues.

Love is the answer, no doubt, but I think the truth and power of that Lennon lyric is about promoting the essentially hard love -- rather than the easy hate -- between humans, and not so much for giraffes. After all, if we don't learn to love each other better than we have done to date, we're all ultimately stuffed, even the giraffes. Even Facebook.      



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