Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Facebook outrage

The outrage I see in my Facebook feed doesn't surprise me, but the calls to action often do.

Boycott Starbucks because they support gay

Boycott Chick-Fil-A because they don't!

Jelly Belly gives money to Romney! Ben and Jerry's supports Obama! Boycott!!

Boycott Whole Foods because they support Planned Parenthood! Boycott Curves Fitness because they don't!

No matter where you stand on a social or political issue, someone can provide you with a list of companies you should boycott because they support the other side. Some people feel it's a social responsibility to patronize (or withhold patronage) from companies that support issues they feel are wrong. And Facebook seems to be the venue of choice for that message these days.

Okay, but things are rarely as simple as the Facebook boycott activists seem to think they are.

For instance, Select Comfort (the makers of the Sleep Number Bed) supports Planned Parenthood. But they also advertised (until recently, at least) on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. Are they evil or not?

Because I do like to consider myself a socially responsible person, I do want to support the businesses that have the same social views as I do. But I like both Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A, and I'm selfish and self-gratifying enough to want them both, regardless of their leanings. I don't think I'm alone there, either.

I also know that the employees who make my Chai Lattes and chicken nuggets have no say in how the corporate Powers That Be spend their money, and a successful boycott could cause them to lose their jobs. It doesn't seem fair.

I've got outrage fatigue. Social conscience exhaustion. It's depressing and I need both jelly beans and ice cream to combat it. (And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have Jelly Bellys on my desk and Ben and Jerry's ice cream in my freezer. I may not agree with the social or political views of a company, but I know quality yumminess.)

And, in a way, these kinds of social and political issue boycotts seem a bit useless. While there may be people who do decide to boycott Starbucks because of their stance on gay marriage, there are other people buying an extra latte to show their support and mitigate the impact. The same issue will turn some away while others flock in.

I've never heard of a single boycott over a social or political issue actually changing the company's leanings. Disney faced an eight-year boycott by religious groups and didn't change a thing about the policies being protested. Ellen DeGeneres is still the spokesperson for JCPennys. The same feelings of right and wrong that fuel the protests also fuel the consciences of the company's decision makers -- and it's hard to adjust someone's ideas of right and wrong.

Every day when I log into Facebook, I'm faced with the social-political boycott call of the day. And because I have such a large, diverse group of people filling my newsfeed, I often see calls to action from both sides of the issue.

Personally, I think it's wrong that Facebook allows people to add me to groups without my consent, or changes the way the page looks or works because it will "improve my experience," but Facebook thinks they're right and they're not going to change. It's my personal choice whether or not to put up with it, and Facebook won't cry if I cancel my account tomorrow.

I kind of figure Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A and Jelly Belly and Ben and Jerry and JC Penney and the rest wouldn't cry either.

But at least the Facebook outrage belongs on Facebook, right? ~grin~


PM's Mother said...

Well said!!!

LA said...

It's really too bad that our "friends" on Facebook aren't calling for more constructive changes...maybe like feeding hungry children, caring for kids in the foster system or ending homelessness. But, those people don't have a Facebook account.

Maven Linda said...

Can't you set your privacy settings so you don't get added to groups without your consent? Facebook -- Grrrr. I have real issues with FB.

Andrea Laurence AKA Smarty Pants said...

There's a part of me that wishes companies and celebrities would stay out of politics and social campaigning. Does having a hit record make you a knowledgable spokesperson? Maybe for ProActive, but not on politics. I prefer most people keep their opinions to themselves and share them on their ballots, not their facebook pages. All it does is bring out the trolls on the other side and the next thing you know, your wall blows up with supporters and haters. When they get really loud about some issue, whether I agree or not, it starts to color my opinion toward them. Maybe, I too, believe in the rights of dogs to wear tuxedos, but perhaps not with setting an angry pack of formal-wear attired canines on the politician opposed. Everything can be taken too far. (And yes, that was a horrible, but politically-neutral example.)

I like Starbucks and Chick Fil A and Ben & Jerrys. Stick to food. If non-hormone generated milk makes tastier ice cream, great. That's an issue relevant to what they're doing.

So in general, no, I'm not going to paste this post to my wall if I agree. I'm not going to forward this email, even if you threaten that Jesus won't love me anymore if I don't. My social networking accounts are Switzerland, man. We're interested in chocolate, here.

*rant over*

Playground Monitor said...

Right now I'm very concerned about the woman who was fired because she refused to give her Facebook password to her employer. If it's upheld, that's a scary thought. What next? The PIN for my debit card?

Jane said...

I think sometimes celebrities can bring awareness to issues where we're not familiar with like George Clooney speaking out against genocide in Sudan. It might not actually help, but maybe bringing attention to the issue will have an impact.

Pat said...

I don't pay attention to the "boycott this or boycott that", You can't boycott everyone. Their sexual opinions belong in their home & with their spouse/partner, etc. I see those things on FB & I delete them. They can live by their food desires but leave mine alone. I love ChicK Filet, love ice cream (Ben & Jerry's & almost any ice cream). Hope you have a great blog today.

Once again, Andrea - Great Job & so happy for you. Pat