Social media: A Source of Information, Support and a Trap

We are all tough guysI have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Flickr. They take a bit of time, but I’ve felt that the investment was worth it for the gain received.

News tends to come out very quickly on these venues, so I have stayed on the very cutting edge of updates about vaccination, health and politics. I’ve also liaised with activists around the world in ways that just don’t seem to happen in other venues. We’ve strategised, supported each other and instantly shared information, local events and vaccination and other personal data.

It’s been marvellous!

But it’s also lulled me into a false sense of action.

Armchair warrior

From the comfort of my own chair, I’ve gotten to the end of the day feeling like I’ve accomplished so much when in fact, all I’ve done is talk (and virtual talk at that!)

You see, getting onto social media and saying rah, rah, rah! You’re right and what the government is doing is wrong, makes me feel better; makes me feel like I’m part of the solution; but if that’s all I do, it accomplishes nothing.

Social media has so many benefits, but one of its downsides – and perhaps one of the many reasons why participation in these outlets is openly encouraged by so many businesses and governments (aside from the purposes of data mining and financial gain) is that it keeps ‘the masses’ complacent. It makes us feel like we are participating in the issues we feel passionate about when really, all we’re doing is sending out a bunch of ‘me too’ posts that might make us and the post-recipients feel good, but do nothing to remedy any problems or right any wrongs.

These outlets are a tyrannical government’s dream! Yes, on the one hand, they do allow us to share information quickly, efficiently and with little government interference (Twitter and Facebook being the notable exceptions with censorship and algorithm fiddling constantly suppressing anti-government and anti-corporate interest posts), but on the other hand, they keep us in front of our computers and off the street.

Civil disobedience and protests before social media

An artist's depiction of the Leicester anti-compulsory vaccination protest of 1885 which saw up to 100,000 people marching against compulsory shots.
An artist’s depiction of the Leicester anti-compulsory vaccination protest of 1885 which saw up to 100,000 people marching against compulsory shots.

In the mid-1800s when the UK Parliament first passed compulsory vaccination legislation, without any media or social media, England organised massive protests which were eventually successful at overturning that draconian legislation which, like today’s No Jab, No Pay laws, unfairly targeted those on lower incomes whilst not touching the wealthy.

In the Leicester rally of 1885, as many as 100,000 people marched in protest to these laws – 100,000 people who found out about the protest and got off their arses to publicly protest against government overreach!

Rallies in Sydney, Brisbane and other capital cities last year – with all the benefits of media and social media – only attracted a maximum of 1,000 individuals in each location – far less the second time around.

Why is this? Why is it so difficult today to get people out of their houses to physically attend protests against injustices which, if allowed to continue, may harm or even kill us? Why are we so unwilling to show up, even when we know that NOT showing up will appear to uninformed outsiders to indicate tacit approval or even support of these laws?

I believe that social media is one of the reasons.

Say it to my face

After speaking with many people who fully intended to come to these anti-No Jab, No Pay rallies last year, but who never actually got there, a single theme appeared. I have paraphrased some of the reasons below:

1- I was busy, but I did share it with my friends on Facebook.

2- I was afraid to come, but I emailed a couple of people. Did they turn up?

3- I am SO behind this event, but I just couldn’t make it. I put it out on Twitter and I’m sure lots of my friends would have been there.

4- Great event! Would have loved to have come. I support it 100%. Saw it on Pinterest and did share it with a few friends who I know are on side. Didn’t want to have any blowback from my other friends though.

All of these people believed they were supporting the events and the cause. In their heart, they were actively involved in advancing informed choice because they shared information on social media. Don’t get me wrong – sharing is VERY important, but it will take so much more than that to overturn discriminatory legislation; to change the minds of an uninformed public, to make Australians understand how wrong it is to coerce parents into doing something to their child that is not (according to the parents) in their best interests.

It takes action – physical action.

It takes letter writing – not just emailing.

It takes protests where tens of thousands turn up.

It takes people getting outside of their comfort zones to speak with friends, family and associates and explain why they support free and informed health choice.

If, like me, you have been a keyboard warrior who hasn’t gotten out much of late, don’t despair! That false sense of action hasn’t been a complete loss. Sharing information and support is one plank in a vital effort to raise the consciousness of Australians everywhere about the dangers facing them, their families and their basic, inalienable human rights.

But it is just ONE plank. There is so much more that needs to be done.

Protest-1900_518x230

Social media can be instrumental in advancing causes and achieving goals. It has brought down governments and informed the world. Without social media, the Arab Spring never would have happened. While it may have started on Twitter, it was only successful because people got out and marched and protested in their hundreds of thousands. We are missing that important final step.

I am going overseas for a few months shortly and won’t be back until early 2017 (2017? How did that happen?????) When I do, I pledge to be more present, more active and more vocal about these issues.

I pledge to do more seminars, provide more information both on and offline and write more letters to politicians and to the editors. I pledge to call more talkback radio stations and speak to more people – both friends and strangers – about why I believe in health freedom (in appropriate circumstances of course – I’m not just going to walk up to complete strangers and say, Hey, do you vaccinate?)

Will you join me? 

Please don’t stop your social media chatter – it’s important. But don’t feel that it’s the be-all and end-all. When the call comes to go to a seminar or a protest march or to visit your members of Parliament, please do it! Be there in the flesh – and make your voices heard.

I would love to hear what you think about this. Please make comments on this blog post.

by Meryl Dorey

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the nocompulsoryvaccination blog. This blog is a forum, support and information site and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.