I'm not surprised that the 30+ (still growing) bloggers who have e-mailed me and sent private messages don't want to stick their heads above the parapet for fear of reprisals from their blogging friends in this haha 'supportive community'.
If you missed all the hoo-ha yesterday and you want to read the original post, I'll wait right here for you...
Apparently someone called Amy began the (unintentionally) narcissistic, offensive campaign that I and others felt extreme distaste for on Saturday. She then read my article, which covers the history of the Middle East, the West's role in destabilising the region, recent attitudes to Muslims in both the UK and the US, and much more. Somehow this article then became a personal attack on her. More narcissism?
To clarify, there were 8 sentences in my lengthy blog post about the bloggers kids photo campaign. 8 sentences.
Yes, the catalyst for my post was the appalling reaction I have seen on social media in the past few days with everyone seemingly trying to outdo one another to show just how much they care, and her campaign was a small part of that.
My objections to that campaign have been well-documented (see OP and comments on original post). In essence, on Saturday, once everyone was already well aware of the crisis, Amy orchestrated a social media campaign which involved people, mostly bloggers, taking pictures of their own comfortably off, well-fed, safe children holding a placard saying ‘it could have been me’. It could not, ever, have ‘been them’ and to compare the two is, in my opinion, morally repugnant. I was not the only one to say this on Saturday, and since.
A lot of bloggers, as they do, quickly jumped on the bandwagon and shared their photo, along with notes about their ‘little sod’ or the bribery that had been involved in getting the child to pose. This was then followed by a further tranche of photos: screenshots showing the thank you screen after a charity donation had been made. Why do this? What do you prove to the world, why not just donate? Why screen grab it and share it on social media? Is your donation really about helping, or is it about being seen to do so?
There was then much glee that the hashtag #itcouldhavebeenme had trended on Twitter. Was that really the purpose?? Why not use the hashtags already in operation; why not join the campaigns already happening?
To create your own campaign, with your own hashtag, rather than sharing the news and political and charity calls to action, or even signing the 14 million strong petition and asking everyone you know to do the same, smacks of vanity project to me. However, as I have repeatedly stated, I do not doubt the motivation to do something, anything, to help. It was though, in my opinion, an ill-conceived campaign.
I have subsequently learnt from members of their inner circle that the bloggers who orchestrated this campaign insisted on a unique SMS code so they could track how much money was donated; boasted about their new contacts; said how good it was going to look on their blogging c.v.; and worse. The benefit of the doubt approach I started with yesterday has been revised.
The hashtags #refugeeswelcome, #refugeecrisis and #savesyriaschildren have been around for a long time and used by many, many people in the past few years. A lot more people picked up on them last Thursday and Friday because of the shocking photos, but a quick look at the news covered by the Guardian and others over the past four and a half years would have shown you plenty of other ever more shocking photos.
Last week, the zeitgeist changed due to the photos of Aylan Kurdi, not because of bloggers' photos.
All these donations and all this attention to the crisis cannot fail to be a good thing. BUT a one-off donation is made many times more valuable by continued support to a charity (direct debit), and even more so by direct political action.
That, and many more points, is the message of my original blog post.
A long time ago, I wrote against sleep training babies and received a stream of abuse from bloggers. I have since written a post debunking the myth of the caring, sharing blogging community; talked about politics; campaigned for issues here and overseas; campaigned for refugees in Calais and the problems in and because of Syria; and much more. Every time I have been attacked and criticised, mostly by bloggers. Apparently this means that I "enjoy stirring up debate". No, I just have opinions, which may differ from the majority's, and which I have no qualms in sharing.
Alas, many other bloggers do not feel that they can do the same. They are too afraid to leave positive comments on my post or on social media because they fear the reprisals from the blogging cliques. Their private support has been most welcome. What a sad indictment of a 'supportive community' though.
I wrote a blog post that gives people more information about the crisis; one that states the opinion of the writer; one that urges more action, not just a £5 donation. It was also a blog post that questioned the motivations of people who feel it as, or more, important to post on Facebook, than to damn well get on and do something. Hence the title. All I saw over the weekend was a race to show that 'I care more than you do'.
My plea was to please create long-term direct debits and take direct action. Don’t just sit smugly by with a photo of your kid holding a placard, and a Facebook status showing how much you donated.
And so yesterday I got criticised. Oh, and horribly abused in e-mails and private messages. Again.
But, do you know what, it’s water off a duck’s back here. I’m not into the blogging popularity contest. Hate me? So be it. Criticise me? So be it. I’ve got used to that from people who don’t even know me, or bother to try.
Over the years I have received a number of vile and abusive e-mails and messages from bloggers, including several messages during my election campaigning that the 'immigrants' waiting at Calais would be coming to rape my daughters. I have had people turn their backs on me at events, or blank me; someone even spat in my food once; oh, and at BritMums last year, I was forced to sit on the pavement to breastfeed Tatiana, because there was 'no room' on the empty sofa.
I don't care. If you are one of those bloggers, good luck to you!
I am perfectly happy with my life, my husband, my daughters, my cats, my friends, and my opinions and life choices. Your, and Facebook's, approval is not essential to that.
Readers I love though, thanks for being here. Disagree with me? Fine. Engage in rational, educated debate? Great. But at the end of it my opinion will still be my opinion, and yours yours. As I have said many times before, people are always welcome to stop reading.
Anyway, that blog post is not, and never was, about Amy or any other individual. It is about a huge crisis that most people seem to have been ignorant of or, worse, ignored for years. And the fact that when they did wake up it became a race to see who could care most on social media. It is also about the disgusting attitudes in this country towards people of other countries, races and religions. And the media and politicians who have encouraged that, for years. Read the post properly without the Amy-centric view and it tells a whole other story.
The debate here should be about Syria, about western politics, economics and action. And about what people can actually DO. That was what I set out to blog about late Monday night.
Whatever you think of me and my opinion and my writing, please act. Having been lone voices in the wilderness for all these years, we want you all to join in now that you care.
I was accused of telling people off, I'm not. I want you to join the fight!
And for the record, I am not against sharing charitable information on social media. Share collection points and drop off centres; share ways to take action; share news stories and information; share the positive stories that are emerging too. But please, please, don't make it about you.
Forget what Facebook thinks of you, and ACT. We need to help. Now.
Donate as much as you can possibly can, preferably to MOAS.
Write to your MP.
Tweet Cameron till Twitter blocks you!
Join charities' campaign boards.
For more information on the crisis and Britain's appalling response.even now, read these news stories:
To all those bloggers who have sent private messages of support and agreement, thank you. It means a lot.