Sunday, 12 February 2012
On spam mail, chain letters and Facebook hearts - An unexpected Valentine's Day conversation
In my e-mail today, there were three chain letters, each promising something wonderful if I passed them on, and dire, deadly consequences if I didn't. On my Facebook page, there were a half a dozen notifications that I had received a heart, a hug or some other token of love that would be counted and recorded as soon as I accepted it.
Both the chain letters and the Facebook apps suggested that I should send the same back to the sender, to let them know I cared.
I used to get annoyed by chain letters with their thinly veiled threats for not passing them along to others whom I knew wanted them as little as I did. But now I see them differently. They are requests to know that we matter.
So many of us live in a world where no one on our street knows our name (or perhaps ONLY our name.) At work, we are replaceable if we choose to leave, or expendable if the company's accounts deem us unnecessary or too expensive.
Online, we may have hundreds or even thousands of "Friends" and "Followers", but most of them would barely notice if our Facebook or Twitter accounts shut down tomorrow.
So now, probably more than ever in history, we NEED to know that someone reads our e-mails and responds in kind to wish us luck or love or prosperity. We NEED to see those heart (or hug) counts on Facebook to feel that someone out there, beyond our little world, cares about us.
Those often annoying, sometimes irritating requests are really a way of saying "Do you know I'm here?" And more importantly, "Does it matter?"
So this Valentine's Day, I have a suggestion. Spend some time over the next few days to let the people in your life (online and in person) know that they matter to you. Send them a note, write them a message or send a virtual card. Buy a box of those $2 for 20 kiddie Valentines and give them out to your coworkers or neighbors.
And this is the hard part: do it all without keeping count or demanding that they pass it on or return the favor. The world can be a lonely, scary place these days. Maybe this February 14th we can all make a dent in that.
Happy Pink Saturday!