It seems that barely a week is able to pass by without an underclass of social media users sharing images of something disgusting. This week’s image in question, which incidentally, I am not going to share, is of a dead Syrian child lying on a beach. It is an image so repugnant in its very idea, that there is absolutely no need for anyone to ever share it. Unless they are morally obtuse, self-absorbed, shitbergs.
This social media underclass of keyboard warriors and online campaigners believe that they are making a difference. In my own encounters with these feckless morons the most common defence that I have encountered is that they are, in fact, ‘raising awareness’. In this particular case they might be right. There might be someone, probably called George, that lives in a closet, has an allergy to news, and has only one friend in the entire universe responsible for shaping their world view. Them. In such cases it is indeed true they are raising awareness, raising awareness that George should likely try living a life in the real world. However, putting George to one side for a moment, I cannot help but wonder what it is precisely that they are raising awareness of? Death? Their penchant for collecting pictures of dead children? The fact that life is unfair? That war is fatal?
The fact is, these click-baited mindless morons gain a sense of usefulness and righteousness from their actions. They are honestly that stupid that they believe with a genuine conviction that sharing distressing images does something positive for the causes which they care about. That all they are required to do is click one button, or touch one screen and life will become inordinately better. It is self-delusion of a scale that in past centuries would have landed them inside mental asylums, and yet, today, is the true epoch of our modern age.
The saddest thing of all is that this sharing, caring, generation of internet zombies are, deep down, exactly the same as George. They are all blithely unaware of the universe which lives outside of their own doorsteps. It is as if the genius of Zuckerberg is that he has convinced us that we are regal in our kingdoms. That we Gods of the touchscreens are able to shape the perceptions of others through tacit use of shock and awe. That humanity is a community interconnected by screens. It is not. It is a living, breathing dying gaggle of gene machines. Humanity cannot be saved by the power of want. The force of intention does not put food in the bellies of refugees. The awe of image cannot stop wars. The divine power of the share button cannot stop people dying, no matter how many times you share a photograph of a dead child on a beach.