Causes – Ignoring the cause

27 Aug

Is social networking really the tool that will enable those with a social conscience to take on the world and make a difference? Or is it simply another version of the ineffective methods that have been employed for years by activists.

First of all, I’d consider myself less of an inactive activist (there’s an oxymoron for you to consider) if I didn’t have to follow around in someone else’s agenda and philosophy and subscribe to such a hardcore lifestyle. I’m a green but hey, I love to eat meat. I’m a socialist but hey, I really want an iPhone. And yes, don’t get me started about the car that I drive.

I remember back in my early uni days, getting stopped by the average dreadlock styled, vegan, wearing Che on his t-shirt waving Greenpeace support brochures. ‘Great’, I thought, I now had the chance to join up, become one of the volunteers that would help fight against the evil corporations that are killing our world.

No, I was wrong.

He/They, wanted money. And quite a bit of it: $10 a month, directly debited.

OK, here I am, an 18 year old uni student with a casual job that I worked probably 6 hours a week in. I made roughly $100 a week and that’s before paying for petrol, parking permits, text books, food, alcohol on weekends and the occasional CD. (78’s isn’t cheap either).

On a good week, I was probably left with about 20 bucks in my pocket to spare (and this was when I was single, it got much worse when I was dating).

As I didn’t really have the time to consider my financial status and was overpowered by the need to show my solidarity and support of my comrades, I contacted my bank and gave the guy my account details – signed them all over so that they could take $10 out of my account at the end of each month. Nothing, I thought to myself.

Yet, I felt slight disappointment as I left. You see, earlier on I asked him if there was any way that I could support the organisation without having to pay any money. “No, we don’t need volunteers at the moment but if you put your name on this list, we’ll call you back.”

I never got called back.

Since then I’ve cancelled the direct debit and become highly skeptical of how organisations garner their support. Either your feeding them money, or your actually out there doing something – and it’s apparently not that easy to just be doing something.

The same goes for when I see other organisations try and gain support in shopping centres: World Vision is one that comes to mind. Hey! Send me to Africa or South America or South East Asia to look after these kids – I’d rather be doing that than writing you a cheque every week while you send me their picture and letter from them. OK… that’s a little too cynical since they do wonderful work for these children, however you can see my point – I don’t want to pay when I don’t even have much money myself.

We are made to feel guilty if we don’t hand over some money to an organisation, a charity that needs it. However at the same time so many people do just that: They hand over the money without really thinking about where it’s going, what it’s doing – they hand it over because they are bound by non-existent morals and values – people: morals don’t exist!

Anyway back to the point of my article.

Social Networking is doing much the same – Facebook, for instance is working hard with its causes application – a third party app mind you, where there are different causes that people who call you your ‘friends’ will notify you about, remind you about, and ask you to join them.

I get one a day. ONE A DAY.

Now imagine a charity organisation coming to your door seven times a week. No one has that much small change just lying around in their house. Yet if they don’t give, they feel guilty.

Facebook is different!

We are not face-to-face with the person. We are not out in public in the middle of a shopping centre trying to avoid a conversation with a volunteer. We are not outside the uni cafeteria trying not to smell the funky stench coming from the guy with the dreadlocks waving a pamphlet in our faces.

All we have to do, is click ‘ignore’.

And you’re done!

You’re set!

No more cause.

That is, until another one pops up from another so-called ‘friend’.

The most I’ve come to feeling a tinge of guilt was once when the same person on my friends list sent me the same causes invitation 3 times in a row.

I think that they finally got the message eventually.

Maybe next time I’m in the shopping centre I can just call out “Ignore” as I walk past a volunteer table.

But then again, that’s just not me.

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One Response to “Causes – Ignoring the cause”

  1. Steve August 27, 2009 at 2:45 am #

    I had my at the time naive 19 year old mind blown when I had this perspective explained to me.

    These major corporations and financial interests cause 80% of the world to live off less than $2USD a day through the economic enslavement of all of us. They then expect us to clean up their mess which they can easily pay for many times over, by exploiting the innate altruism of all of us by us giving money. Which ends up back in their pockets.

    I think you’ll find that a lot of these charities (moreso the global reknown ones) are being funded indirectly by the same people they wish to tear down. $10 direct debit mostly goes towards them printing new pamphlets or paying for callouts or advertising. The people who need it rarely see it and the IMF and the World Bank, two fucking scandalous organizations, come in and ‘offer to help’ i.e. get poor countries into debt and then take all their resources as collateral when they can’t pay. Charity (not all the time though) is now a business unfortunately.

    I used to feel the same guilt by not donating, and I still give one-offs, but knowing where that money is really going I don’t feel guilty anymore. Guilt is a fucking religious construct anyway designed to control you in certain ways, it’s an irrelevant world view. Getting in there and getting ‘hands on’ like you said is the best way.

    I don’t know if you have read ”Çonfessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins? You should, excellent read.

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