Social cause and social bullying

Last week, I did Communication Shutdown-to shut down Facebook and Twitter for 24 hours to raise money and awareness for Autism.
I first found out about this on Facebook, my FB friend Jay Baer had posted a status saying “I challenge you to join us in the 1st global facebook shutdown. Check out the site and get your badge for Monday”. I was curious, and went to see the site.
Here’s the excerpt from the website: “Social network users have become reliant and even addicted to platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And if they shutdown for 1 day, they will feel a sense of disconnection and a sense of frustration. By creating a little empathy, we hope to encourage a wider understanding and acceptance of people with autism – an understanding we recognize those in the autism community already have.”

I personally don’t know anybody who has autism-Main reason I did the shutdown was just because I am such a Twitter addict(everybody knows that!)-I KNEW it will be difficult, but I was willing to accept the challenge.

So I donated, got a badge, and posted on Twitter and FB that I will not be around on November 1st. MANY people asked me what the heck was going on, and I explained. Many people like the idea and they joined the shutdown themselves.

I spent November 1st by just working through email, reading, and playing with kids. It was actually amazing how much I got done, and it was a bit scary for me (for how much time I’m spending on social media) and for Twitter(watch out guys-I might not need you much).
Anyhow, the day has come and gone, the world didn’t end if I didn’t use Twitter, and I was back on Tuesday morning.

Then I saw on Facebook Scott has posted a status:

There were a lot of comments on his status, including me and Jay saying that we both had negative response, too. Looks like most of the negative comments were shutting down communication does not have any positive effect on the cause. Some said shutting down for just one day is not anywhere close to the real experience those people with autism have. It’s kind of like trying to live in a wheel chair for one day.
Those criticisms are valid, and I get that. But it certainly caused a lot of buzz and got a lot of people talking-which was the point- to raise awareness.

As social media grows, we see more and more movements like this-we are constantly asked to show your support for various cause.
Is this a good thing? I suppose so. But at the same time, some of us are starting to feel the pressure and stress from all the “social cause” requests. Like my friend Kelli said, there are so many causes to participate in, you can’t do it all. I totally agree with her.

This reminds me of what Malcolm Gladwell wrote few months ago, that Social media cannot move people in “real” situations. Changing an avatar is like “Liking” on Facebook-I personally love how Jay put it, it’s a digital bumper sticking. But that does not mean those people are not serious about the cause. I certainly was serious when I shut down.

What I have problem with is the people who blame those who do not participate. Or those who attack the one who support certain cause.
(There are some ridiculous boycotts out there too, but that will require a whole new blog post. There definitely is a fine line.)

I am so annoyed with all the “social bullying” around all the causes – Come on – are we, like, 12?
I have never forced anybody to join me on any cause, and I am totally OK if you don’t participate.

I saw an ad for HSBC at an airport the other day- “The world would be a dull place if everyone agreed on everything”.. It is so true.