emotional blackmail on facebook

Not a week goes by without one of these messages appearing in my Facebook timeline.

Amelia's Facebook Avatar

“Posting for those who have to deal with health issues everyday: I’m posting this because recently I have been mocked and laughed at for things beyond my control. I CARE…I have one of these illnesses as does others in my family…. Not one of my Facebook friends will copy and paste (but I am counting on a true family member or friend to do it). If you would be there for me no matter what then copy and paste this. I’m doing this to prove a friend wrong that someone is always listening. I care. Hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It’s a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (Crohn’s, PTSD, Anxiety, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Bipolar, Depression, Diabetes, Lupus, fibromyalgia, MS, AS, ME, , Epilepsy, Autism, M.D.,D.D.D., CFS, Histiocytosis, RSD, PBC, SOD etc.) Never judge what you don’t understand!

Even though the message is often some cause or sentiment I would support otherwise, the fact that it’s couched in terms of emotional blackmail.  That just makes me angry.  So I never repost the status message, although sometimes I tell the person posting it why.”

“Not one of my Facebook friends will copy and paste (but I am counting on a true family member or friend to do it”

This type of implied social coercion makes these messages into the digital equivalent of a chain letter. Yes, it will often browbeat someone into doing what you ask, but I’m sure it leaves a sour taste in their mouth. The resentment that this subtle form of bullying causes is probably far worse for the cause the poster is trying to rally support for.

So where do these messages actually come from?

Because users are asked to cut and paste them, there’s no way of tracing them back to the point of origin.  So we can’t ever know for sure.  But I’m guessing that this is actually a campaign begun by Facebook.  After all, the people we can emotionally blackmail are those closest to us in our social strata.

And that data is worth money to Facebook.

Image Credit
I created the phony avatar above for my character Amelia’s character page on the “Inconstant Moon” serialization site.