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Have you supported a cause on Facebook? Let’s say: health care, gun rights, your friend’s new book, or your friend who’s running for an office. Raising awareness to support those causes is common on social media sites like Facebook. Users are very familiar with ads, videos, and posters of that nature.

But let me ask you this, have you been on the other side of the table trying to gather support? Like, running for an office? Promoting anti-deportation? Promoting your book?

I’ve been on the other side of the table. It feels disappointingly ugly. Many people would support on social media, but when it comes to action. Nothing…no action, unless you consider clicking “like” or “share” as sufficient action to have an influence on an issue.

Many friends would click on like and share your post, but just a few would buy your book. And if you run for office, many would do the same on social media, but just a few would go to vote. This phenomenon got me thinking.

So what happens when Facebook users click one of those emotional buttons: like, love, haha, wow, sad, or angry on our post?

It’s the user’s emotional state of mind transported, via the gift of Facebook, and grafting it onto our mind. Our brain accepts it. Because it cannot distinguish Facebook like from a real like, it is misleading. Guys get into this trap a lot. When a girl clicks like on a guy’s picture, the guy would think she likes him – No dude…She likes your picture…Not you!

In my judgment, they have become a digital dumb down unit of scale for support.  

On the other side of the social exchange, from the point of the people who are clicking “like” or “share” –  those Facebook social interactions have also become fodder for a person’s desire to feel good about themselves, maybe just (good) enough to give themselves a pat on the shoulder, just a little something to be proud of, an anodyne for guilt. In short, what people are saying is: “I did my part without getting involved.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against using Facebook to raise awareness for support. It is the perfect platform for that. But I’m concerned that it has become a replacement for the real support that matters more in real life.

Let me stop my harangue and give a real life example of what recently happened to the Iraqi Chaldean community in Michigan.

On June 11, 2017, ICE raided and detained 114 Christians in a surprise raid to deport them back to Iraq. It’s the first time in the U.S. history. Usually, it’s the other way around; Iraqi Christians flee Iraq to come to America, not this time.

As I am sitting in Baghdad halfway across the world from Detroit, I cannot stop thinking about what is happening to our people there.

For the ten days following, many Chaldeans kept sharing updates, raising social support, posting, tagging, and streaming live videos urging the community to stand united against the deportation on Facebook. It was a very successful Facebook campaign. It captured the mood of the community.

It was a highly publicized issue, even major news organizations like the Washington Post, the New York Times, and CNN covered the issue.

According to community leader Wisam Naoum, it is estimated there are 120,000 Chaldean people living in Michigan alone.

A protest day was scheduled on June 21, 2017, with the slogan “a march against the deportation.”

There was free transportation provided for those who wanted to participate in the demonstration.

I don’t like to be calculatedly pessimistic, but I did the math.

About 400 people were transported via the free transportation. I checked the videos and asked a few friends who were close to the scene. I took the average between the overstated and understated number given to me and filtered out other nationalities and ethnicities like the Latinos, African American, and Muslim Iraqis.

I put the number of Chaldeans who participated in the rally at 500. That is 0.41% – less than a half percent.

Let us pause and put this in perspective: Here is the Iraqi Christian community facing a historic day, and what do you get? 

Less than half of one percent of the population. 

It leads the outsider to only one conclusion: that the community supports the deportation.

And what happened to all those Facebook likes, comments, and shares? It was a public social catharsis. That is all. This has have become the minimum type of support expected, a replacement for the real tangible support, just a remedial for our psychic wounds. In real life, we call it lip service. 

I’m not sure, but it seems Facebook ushered in a new age, the age of the perception of support mattering most, an age where real support has become absent.

The physical world and the virtual world coexist in that they complement each other. But, just like faith without good deeds is dead, showing virtual support is dead without physical deeds. Nothing beats the real thing…like going to vote, marching in solidarity, or buying your friend’s new book.

My concerns are genuine for our people. A political issue like deportation on this scale for our Chaldeans is a calamity. It is striking, in retrospect that the Facebook campaign plus the national news coverage resulted in a little number of demonstrators. WE, as a modern society are using the easy way out sometimes – by clicking like – to fool ourselves into believing we are involved. The virtual participation thus bequeathed a little number of demonstrators to proof beyond comments, and likes.

I might be wrong, but in the long run who isn’t?


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