Did you know that Friday 5th August was ‘National No Campaigns Day’? No? Neither did I. That’s because I’ve just made it up.
Those that know me know that I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon, I’m not a hashtag whore who will join any campaign just to get a few extra followers on Twitter or a few extra views on my blog. I’m not going to tell you how hard it is for me to be a black woman in Baltimore or a misunderstood wrestling fan from Stoke.
If you copy and paste a status into Facebook saying that 90% of people won’t copy and paste that status and ‘daring’ me to do it, I’m going to ignore it. It’s not really daring is it? You’re not storming a castle or abseiling down the Empire State Building. You are merely copying some ill thought out guff to make you think that you’ve done something without getting out of your armchair.
If you ask how many likes we can get for a bullied child, I’m going to think twice. I’m fairly confident that the last thing a bullied child needs is attention being drawn to them all over the internet
And if you ask ‘Can we get an Amen’ for whatever random picture you are sharing you are more likely to get something much more offensive than ‘Amen’.
But that’s the great thing about social media, just because I don’t get involved in such things, doesn’t mean that you can’t. I might hide you from my timeline but carry on if it floats your boat.
Most campaigns or ‘National Days’ can be traced back to marketing firms who are using you for free advertising and getting you to buy their goods. It’s a bit of fun but are you happy at being used by some smarmy, suited tosspot in trendy office in Shoreditch?
As an experiment I did a quick Google search for ‘National Baked Beans Day’ and it turns out that not only do we have a national day, we are just coming to the end of National Baked Beans Month. I wasn’t aware so the marketers haven’t really done their job here. It is probably just as well because if everybody had committed to eating beans for a month, the air wouldn’t be worth breathing.
Britain First’s ability to cash in on people’s laziness is well documented. If you really knew what they stood for would you really be liking their picture of a puppy or an old soldier? Do you really want to be liking a group that has steadfastly ignored the wishes of the British Legion and Lee Rigby’s family? I would hope not.
I’m not going to go over old ground about whether things like the Ice Bucket Challenge are a positive way of raising funds and awareness or merely lazy attention seeking, I think it is fair to say it is a bit of both. News came out this week about how the money raised has led to a minor breakthrough. This is great but just think what could be achieved if all this publicity and fundraising was put into saving the NHS. It is allowing us to be complacent about the things that really matter.
This isn’t to say I don’t care about things, I care passionately about some subjects, some of which have their own campaigns. I am still cautious about joining these campaigns because I sometimes think it dilutes the message into something too simplistic and bite sized and prevents people from engaging fully.
I have strong political views but I’ve largely stopped sharing them online as I’ve realised that I’m unlikely to change anybody’s mind. I might share the odd article I find interesting but very rarely add my opinion.
You might say that online campaigns are the ultimate in democracy as anybody can start one and this is true to an extent but as I’ve highlighted above, when most campaigns are started by marketing companies, those with the most money are always going to get the most attention.
Which brings me back to my original point, if anybody can start a campaign, why can’t I? Even if I don’t agree with them doesn’t mean I can’t have my own, I’m nothing if not a hypocrite.
My initial thought was to have a No Complaints Day but it probably comes as no surprise that it already exists. 12th August if you are interested.
Come and join me this Friday and throw all other campaigns aside. Don’t idly retweet or share something that looks vaguely like something you agree with. At the very least try digging a little deeper, find the source of the campaign and question whether it is something you really want to get involved in.
I have friends who are involved in campaigns that they care passionately about and whilst I don’t necessarily agree with all of their crusades, I admire the effort they put into doing it properly and nobody could ever accuse them of doing it for attention seeking.
It would still be nice for them to have a day off, put their feet up and enjoy the world around them rather than getting angry. This Friday is the ideal opportunity.
So for one day only, on Friday 5th August, I’m asking everyone to stop campaigning, think a bit more about what it means, leave politics alone and make #NoCampaignsDay the most successful campaign ever.