This article may ruffle some feathers. But I’d like to think that those feathers belong to narrow-beaked birds that I don’t need in my readership anyway.
So if the idea of a controversial viewpoint gets you all hawkish, then I suggest you fly away immediately. Avian references like a motherf*cker.
A few months ago, an article with a staunch view on social media was (somewhat ironically) shared amongst Facebook walls and Twitter feeds worldwide. The article posited the following:
The only two reasons that one shares or posts to social media is either because
A) The poster believes the content will be entertaining to others or
B) The poster believes the content will generate attention/validation for his or herself.
Despite the obviously broad and hard-line qualities of the theory, I tend to agree. Especially when it comes to part B. Think about it.
Bikini bridges, brunch shots and birthday albums -- subconsciously or not, we post these purely for adulation. This is my great life, my great time, my great body -- now look and "Like." But while these are relatively benign desires, there have always been two eyeball-seeking tactics that irk me:
Marathons and Mourning. Charity selfies and RIP posts.
Of course, there are people with a pure desire to help others who prefer to spread the word through social media. Yes, there are those whose devastating loss can only be cured by shouting into the ether.
But in my experience, the majority of social media activity regarding donations or grieving is ultimately self-serving and therefore, disingenuous.
Marathons and Mourning. It’s a tough subject to tackle because it’s ascribing bad to good. Therein lies the rub. We hold charitable acts in the highest regard as an ultimate tenet of morality.
The process of death and loss is one of the most trying and empathy-inducing struggles in one’s life. Thus, I as the writer of this article, can’t help but look like a heartless prick when I criticize someone for posting a Movember ‘stache or a “Thoughts and prayers are with _____.”
I’m sure many of you think me a compassionless nitpicker and are already repelled by my viewpoint. I get that. A minor transgression such as looking like a try-hard on Instagram pales in comparison to the good accomplished by charity or the catharsis provided by public grief.
Yet, I can’t help but bring the perceived lameness into the light. I’m petty and insensitive, but I have a point. Just hear me out and if you still disagree, I would understaaaaeeeeand :
According to the ancient scholar Maimonides, there are eight levels of charity, each greater than the next. Amongst the highest levels of charity is when “one gives, without the recipient knowing from whom he received.”
Maimonides holds anonymous charity in such a high regard because it is a good deed performed “solely for the sake of Heaven.” You do good just because.
There’s no ulterior motive, no retweet reward. I wonder how Maimonides would feel about weekly status updates on your marathon improvements or the thickness of your ‘Mo.
What’s Aramaic for humblebrag?You know who doesn’t document their charitable efforts on social media? Soup kitchen workers and cancer researchers.
People who actually do good on a daily basis for goodness’ sake, Not just validation-seekers running a 5K on whim. Yes, you may be doing “good,” but try do it for the right reasons and the gratification will come from within.
Thankfully, I’ve never lost someone extremely close to me, but I’ve lost: grandparents, friends and family. It’s sad and it sucks. But never have I contemplated writing some mournful status that gives my followers an awkward jolt in their day.
I just find it insincere. You know what I did when I mourned my grandpa? I mourned him! I thought about his life, prayed for his soul and spoke with others who knew the man and felt how I did. I didn’t write him a futile letter in a public forum to elicit a response from my peers.
That’s one out of Macklemore’s playbook. People deal with death differently, and I understand that, but I’ll never forget the time I saw a friend’s Instagram.
It was the anniversary of his uncle’s death, so he did what any grieving person would do. He took a selfie of himself leaning against the tombstone, like it was a vintage automobile. It was reminiscent of a 90s gangsta rap album cover.
The caption read #UNCLELARRY (is Uncle Larry really a trending topic?) and the requisite heart emojis and condolences from others came pouring in. It was sad, but I found it to more weird and ridiculous than anything.
At least the kids on Selfies At Funerals were transparent about their self-indulgence. If you really want to mourn someone’s loss, focus your energy on blessing their soul, rather than your own.
So that wraps it up for me. Was I too harsh? Am I missing the bigger picture with these phenomena?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section or tweet at me @Krumlifedotcom. I hope this post gets lots of attention and likes.
Top Photo Courtesy: Fanpop