There’s a new trend on Facebook, and if you’ve spent any time on the social media giant recently, you’ve likely seen it by now. Images are popping up with an attention-grabbing picture, telling you to tag a friend. The message is usually along the lines of “I’m waiting for Dave” or “Chris said he’d meet me,” followed by instructions to “tag him for me,” but before you do, here’s what you should know.
First, it’s annoying. If you’ve seen the memes, you’ve also seen a status or two from friends telling others on Facebook to knock it off. Your friends don’t want to be tagged in these. However, the reason you should refrain from that tempting tag goes way beyond being an annoyance, but first, have a look at the types of images I’m talking about:
Looking at the examples, I’m sure you recognize a common theme among them. These images feature individuals who don’t meet mainstream standards of beauty. However, you don’t know their “story.” Some may not really have one, but at least one does, and you need to hear it.
I’m not one to use the “shaming” verbiage slung around by the liberal left, and I’m well aware that some of the individuals in these images look the way they do because of their own choices. However, I want to draw your attention to the image in the center — the photo that made me stop and think about this new “fun” trend.
That’s the image that caught my eye, but it wasn’t the photo itself that made me stop scrolling. Since I found the practice distasteful, I typically “kept going” if I saw one in my news feed. I didn’t stop to see who was tagged or to leave a comment to say what I thought about this new trend.
However, when the above image was accompanied by a lengthy rant, I decided to read it, and I’m glad I did.
As the post explains, the woman in the photo is Lizzie Velasquez, who suffers from a condition which prevents her from gaining weight. Some doctors have speculated that she has a form of neonatal progeroid syndrome. Unable to maintain body fat since birth, Lizzie grew up with bullying from her peers, but it didn’t end there.
While online, Lizzie once found a YouTube video of herself, titled The World’s Ugliest Woman. Unfortunately, the comments were more brutal than the title. “Do everyone a favor and just kill yourself,” “Why didn’t her parents just abort her?!” and “KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!!!!!” some keyboard warriors said.
Recounting the events in the documentary A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, Lizzie explains how the online bullying led her to become a public speaker, hoping to end bullying. Yet, here she is again, being bullied online by people who probably don’t even realize what they are doing.
Adults, hiding behind a computer screen and not having to answer for it, are bullying her for “fun.” Make no mistake, when you tag your friend, you aren’t making fun of the individual you tagged. You are making fun of the person in the image, and while I’m far from an easily offended snowflake, there are times behavior needs to be called out, and this is one of them.
Yes, it’s your right to post whatever picture you want and tag whichever friends you decide to annoy. I’m not trying to trample your freedom, I’m just suggesting you stop and think — and use it for good. It’s my right to tell you that I think the action is unkind. To be quite frank, even though we are free to be jerks, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
This behavior, if you are a decent human being, isn’t okay, and if those who have participated in it – some of whom are usually the nicest people I know – drop their defenses for a second and rather than try to excuse it, really think about it, they’d admit it was a bad decision to use someone else’s misfortune as a way to get a laugh. For most, their intentions were innocent, not thinking about the fact that the person pictured is just that — a person.
While there are legitimate reasons for criticism, someone’s appearance, especially when beyond their control, isn’t one of them. Sometimes we need to be called out on our behavior. This is one of those times. Simply put, let’s use our freedom of expression to show compassion, not ridicule. So, before you tag your friend in that photo, here’s what you should know: It’s unkind, and it’s ignorant. If that’s not who you want to be, don’t do it. Let’s be kind to one another instead.