Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Refugees vs Facebook Vanity, or How Social Media Loves a Bandwagon

The crisis in Syria has now been going on for four and a half years.

It is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, and a direct result of American-funded interference and destabilisation in the Middle East, backed by the UK amongst others, that began ostensibly around the turn of the new century.  Of course, any basic history course will show that it actually began much earlier with the power-hungry actions of the British, French and others after the break up of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War.  Some historians would argue that it began earlier than that.

The Middle East has been a hotbed of fermenting tensions and all-out hostilities for at least a hundred years, often stoked by the very powers who claim to be on one side, yet supply weapons to the enemy too.  What a great money-maker that is!

In Afghanistan, women were stoned, girls were banned from schools, unspeakable things happened to many, many people, important historical sites were destroyed.  Nothing happened.  Oil was threatened and the West strode in, guns blazing.

In Iraq (1990 version), oil was threatened, the West waded in.

In 2003, two million of us took to the streets of London to protest against warmongering because of oil.  We were ignored by an ignorant, self-centred Prime Minister who had turned his back on values and belief and got into bed with the American giant.  In search of the ludicrous notion of 'weapons of mass destruction' they went, and found none.

In a bid to control countries that are seen to be mere pawns in the game of oil and money, self-serving Western interests have destabilised an entire region and destroyed millions of lives.

They foment tensions, they supply weapons, they posture and threaten.

The sales of weapons by the west, including UK, US & Canada, is expected to top $18bn this year.

Another politician, the first black president, who promised hope and change, has now fallen under the generals' and the weapons manufacturers' spell.

Afghanistan, a state previously propped up by the US against Russia, fell; Iraq (second time), fell.  Supposedly.

7/11 happened.  Madrid happened.  London happened.

Muslims were vilified and attacked.  Comedians mocked; most people laughed.  Saying whatever you like about Allah and Islam became acceptable.  1.57 billion people were lumped together under one demeaning umbrella.

People suspected their neighbours, mistrusted 'suspects' on public transport, crossed the road to get away.  Holy mosques were attacked.

The big bogeyman with the beard was eventually tracked down and killed.  Supposedly.

A new bogeyman was needed: ISIS entered the lexicon.

And, drip by drip, we were fed the myth that the dragon was waiting at the gates.  They weren't refugees they were economic migrants, they wanted what we had, they would bomb us, they would burn our houses, rape our women, steal our jobs.  Etcetera etcetera.

The xenophobic far right seized their chance and swept to a degree of power across much of western Europe.  Many, many people, and most politicians, to their eternal shame, joined in with the sneering and the baiting, and the offensive and erroneous hyperbole.

The conflict in Syria began on 15th March 2011 when peaceful protests were met by authorities with gunfire, beatings and arrests.  Families were destroyed, children were killed, thousands upon thousands of them.  Homes were bombed, cities turned to rubble.

The world largely ignored it all.  Those who did raise their voices in protest were cut down.

As the refugee 'swarm' began, the xenophobes began their campaign.  Most people believed it.

During the recent UK election, the spectre of Islam at the gate was a strong push to vote UKIP, or at least Tory.  Only they could repel ISIS, and control the migrant crisis, and the 'swarm' at Calais.

Two weeks ago this was still the status quo.

There was no humanity.

Then a little boy drowned.

The tragic, heartbreaking photos of that little body changed the world.  They changed the tide of public opinion.  They made people care.

But instead of finding every penny to send to MOAS or Medecins sans frontieres who are there, literally pulling people out of the water every day, people took to Facebook to show all their friends and family how much they cared.  I care more than you care became the name of the game.

Tears were wept over a child we didn't know, but everyone shared the photo anyway.  Respect went out the window.  Syria and its children and its crisis and its refugees became water-cooler fodder, for good and for bad.

Then, over the weekend, there was a slew of photos of children holding pieces of card with 'it could have been me' or some such written on.  Woohoo it even trended on Twitter, I'm told.  SO WHAT??

Social media is invaluable for getting information out fast.  It is invaluable for making people care; Aylan Kurdi proved that.

But as for vanity projects like can I get my hashtag trending on Twitter in the guise of caring, leave me out.  To be totally honest, I found the 'it could have been me' message disingenuous, morally repugnant, and incredibly narcissistic.  However, I do not doubt the kneejerk sincerity of those who took part.

Comparing safe, well-fed, comfortably-off western children with refugee children is, in my opinion, wrong.  No, it could not have been those children because they had the good fortune to be born where they were and to have a comfortable life.*

So if you care, donate.  If you care, do something.  If you care, join Amnesty.  If you care, use your time to write to MPs demanding this country does more.  Do not use your time and energy to stage meaningless vanity photos of your kids.

The world didn't need a Facebook and Twitter campaign this weekend, it needed it 4 years ago, 3 years ago, 2, 1.  This weekend everyone knew and if they still didn't care, or still thought these 'arabs' were only coming here for the money, then they weren't going to be swayed by a photo of your kid.

Do you know what though, it's fantastic that YOU care!  I'm glad you changed your mind from the drivel you posted about 'immigrants' two weeks ago, or during the election.  I'm glad this may stop you voting UKIP again, or believing everything you're told by the right wing press and politicians.  And even if none of that applies to you, I'm glad that you now understand the seriousness of this conflict and the problems that are out there beyond your sitting room's feature wall.

Now, right now, you care.  And that's brilliant.  That's what Aylan and all the other babies, children, teenagers, adults, parents, old people, and grandparents need.

But why don't you just do something about it?  Why do you also have to show people that you care?

Even worse, we are now being treated to photos of just what you're donating to collection banks to be sent to Calais or Lesbos or wherever.  And, even more obscenely, to screenshots showing the size of your charity donation.

If it's all about being seen to be doing something, then do you really care, or do you just want to be seen to be caring?  Can this huge humanitarian crisis really be about you and your kids, or the size of your donation?!





Best of all, commit.

Commit to raising funds, donating monthly by direct debit, writing letters, campaigning where it counts.  If you need to do it on Facebook, share news stories, photos and facts; information will reach and affect more people than some photo of your kid with a placard.

Commit to doing every last thing you can because this crisis isn't going to go away any time soon, and alas, it is likely to be followed by another.

The UN Refugee Agency reported in June that 59.5 million people were displaced last year as a result of war, conflict and persecution.  This year that figure will have grown again.

Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.  That's appalling.

They all need your help.

Donate; campaign; write to your MP, often; join.

What charities need is support and action, and for donations they need long-term monthly commitment to aid their planning and response potential.  Set up your direct debit(s) today.  Then top that up with emergency contributions when a crisis happens.

Unless we Westerners are absolutely on the poverty line, we should all be contributing regularly to help those in need.

Most of the people that do that would never dream of crowing about what they have done/are doing, they just do it because they want to, and because they are human beings.

Does Facebook really need to know how great you are?  Can you believe it if you don't Facebook it?  Jump off the bandwagon and give or help because you want to, not because you want to tell everyone on social media!

* Ed: I have added this paragraph for clarity.

Addendum added 22:16, 10th September.

I have not closed comments to this post, but all comments on Attachment Mummy are always delayed until approved, and I will not approve abusive comments.  If you have questions about my intention, opinion, thought processes, beliefs, and more, the answers can most likely be found in this blog post or the follow up one, or in the extensive, I might say exhaustive, comments I have posted on each.

It is unlikely I will reply to further comments as I have a living to earn which already takes up a sizeable chunk of my time, and a family to enjoy during the rest of my time.  To reiterate the main points of what this post is about, rather than what it is not:

- This blog post is about my opinions on the refugee crisis, and the tardy response to it from much of the western world.

- This blog post is about the inadequacies of western politics and big business, their part in creating and maintaining conflict, and calls for action against both.

- This blog post was provoked by a wide variety of social media action and reaction which was sparked by a photo of a little boy's body on a beach.  As I and many other commentators* have said, much of that action, in its various forms, was disrespectful, ill-considered, and self-indulgent and/or self-serving.  However, I do not doubt that for most people the choice to act, to do something, was heartfelt and sincere.

- This blog post questions the influence of social media on our lives and asks whether, because of that, we act to be seen as much as we act because we want to.  I believe this is an interesting point of debate, and further blog posts on this theme may well follow.

- This blog post acknowledges that every action and donation by those affected by the crisis is worthwhile, but further action is always required.  The author's hope is that those who feel distraught by what they have seen and now know about the crisis, will continue to act and donate, and act and donate, again and again and again.

The Irish Independent had an interesting article on competitive compassion today. although the paper's right wing bias is also highly visible, so beware!

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  1. Great post. I totally agree with all you have written (except that the photo sharing campaign) and I have been trying to explain all this for a long time, but very few listened to me until they saw the photo of the little boy, then (thankfully) peoples eyes are suddenly open. The reason I don't agree with you over the photo sharing campaign is because I personally think it reaches the people who struggle to put themselves in other peoples shoes and that is why I took part. A photo telling them 'hey, look, this could have been us' I believe is a powerful reminder that the Syrian people are just regular families like you and I. We shouldn't have to do it, people should just know but sadly many don't. The media had previously dehumanized them, so many people struggled to 'connect' to their plight. It frustrates me too, but at least attitudes are changing which is what we all want.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I see your point about tapping into people's empathy, but my point is that that had already happened with the photos that were across the media at the end of last week. I totally agree about the media, and the politicians' and the far right's, campaign to dehumanise these people, and that the struggle to turn that around was a long one. But by Saturday, when the photo trend began, almost everyone knew and had connected and had empathised, because they saw a tiny dead body on a beach, and it hit them. Hard. Even the right wing press had come round by then, and even Cameron had realised the tide of public feeling had turned.

      My point is why didn't everyone use social media to bombard their MPs, or tweet Cameron incessantly; doing something to make a difference rather than raise awareness of something that everyone and their mother was already aware of? It wasn't those placard photos that drove people to donate, it was the media photos from the end of last week.

      I also question the message of the campaign, although as I said I do not doubt its sincerity. No, it couldn't have been those children in the photographs, because they had the good fortune to be born where they are. To suggest that it could have been was actually quite offensive I thought, and felt like it made the awareness campaign about all those who posted photos and their compassion, rather than about the crisis. Why do people need to be seen to be caring, why not just DO more? To make any awareness more hard hitting, it would perhaps have been more useful to find the best information and share that, rather than photos of a comfortable, safe child.

      However, as you conclude, at least people do now care and will hopefully make a change. Donating is the start, political action is now what's needed.

    2. I completely agree, people should be donating or if money is tight signing up to help resettle the refugees or even put them up in a spare room. I 100% agree with this. I have been having a few (very friendly) debates on my facebook with people who think we shouldn't be letting the refugees in and it is astounding that so many people are still listening to the far rights campaign. I'm shocked at the amount of people who still need the truth shoved in their faces. As obvious as it is to you and I, lots of people are still not getting it. I think sharing posts like yours and the other positive, educational articles that I have been reading online will reach more people, who might change their opinion and in turn do something to help the refugees. People are still not fully understanding the difference between economic migrants and refugees.

    3. It is incredible that there are still people who cannot see that the real problem originates from our side of the world, not theirs. But then we have a government that still chooses to blur the difference between economic migrants and refugees, presumable for some political and/or economic gain.

      Did you read the Hansard from yesterday? Cameron's speech is a disgrace:


    4. I think a lot of people are not always interested in current affairs or politics and maybe don't know much about what is really going on. Many people didn't have a clue about Syria 4 years ago and are only becoming aware of the situation now because of social media shares. As bloggers we tend to be the type of people who are extremely opinionated and like to have our say, which is why blogging has become so powerful. I started my blog back in 2008 when there were hardly any UK bloggers, there were no community's, just lone bloggers doing their own thing. I've seen many campaigns since then both good and bad and I join in with the ones that I personally think are a good idea, which let me tell you isn't that many, I most certainly do not jump on any bandwagons. I am passionate about my blog and any content that I put out there whether it be a blog post, Tweet, FB status or a photo. I like to think that after seven years I know the ropes. One thing I have learnt is never to fall out with anyone because of their opinion, especially in blogesphere because I'd fall out with at least one person everyday over an opinion or an action that I disagree with. Many bloggers work on more than one campaign at a time, and they quite often have their fingers in a lot of different charity pies. Some shout it from the rooftops, but most do not and they work quietly behind the scenes. I think tensions are running high in the UK at the moment over the Syrian crisis, many people are split about whether we should help or not. I'm finding that at least 50% of the people I speak to think we are making a huge mistake even letting the Syrians in to the UK. The UK is very much divided at the moment and us people who are on the same side, wanting to help should stick together, not criticize or turn on one another. You and Amy, along with all those bloggers who took part in the photo sharing campaign are on the same side and want the same end result...to help the people of Syria.

  2. I also agree with some of what you have written, but I have a different, more philosophical perspective on it.
    There are always going to be those who will only get involved at a very surface level - the click activists, if you like. But like it or not they are the majority, and always will be. The majority will never do any of what you suggest. If it wasn't for the ease of social media sharing, they'd do nothing. And yes, the hypocrisy of berating 'immigrants' and championing Farage and co, getting outrage about benefit claimants in this country is astounding. It makes you, quite rightly, angry.
    Now I've always been a little anti 'awareness for awareness sake' but regardless, the viral post/tweet/FB post does induce those next levellers, to coin a rubbish term, to act. And yes, some them will brag about it - just like some celebs will publicise themselves along with causes and others will do it anonymously.

    It's all a bit grating and a bit irritating, yes, but then... And I mean no disrespect here, so can the you're not doing enough. Do more. And stop doing this, that and the other type posts. Some will, but no one really likes to be told off and shamed into it.

    Unfortunately, in this day and age the sound bite rules and getting the message across in a way which does play on people's empathy achieves results.

    Like I say, I'm philosophical about that. At least things are happening now...

    1. I think one thing we can all agree on is that at least most/more/a lot of people are now doing something.

      Technology and social media is a real double-edged sword as far as I'm concerned - and that's as someone who makes their living from it!! But it seems that so many people only live if they are doing it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram - we're on our day out, here's a half hourly update of the fun we're having - and that has apparently now become an opportunity to show how much you heart-wrenchingly care about issues too.

      Although I totally agree that it can motivate people who may otherwise be oblivious, I do wonder how many people could have been oblivious at the end of last week! Of course, doing anything is better than doing nothing, but by the time every media source in the world had covered it and pass the dead boy photo had become water cooler fodder, was a comparison between comfortably off, safe children and refugee children really the morally right thing to do? I wonder.

  3. Well, I am wondering if when you wrote this article and then read it back you felt pleased with yourself that your words were going to be really upsetting to those involved with this campaign. I am the one who started the campaign-the idea of the actual photo and the message was that of the group I set up on Thursday of last week and by Saturday we had launched the campaign.
    Just to clear a few things up this wasn’t about sharing images and ''I care more than you care became the name of the game’’ on Facebook as you put it. It was about seizing an opportunity while the public were so horrified at the the reports coming on the news.
    How do you know if I have donated to charities before I started this campaign? Perhaps you would like to see bank statements proving my donations, or letters from the boy and girl that I sponsor. Maybe I can convince you by showing you my husband’s business accounts and you can see the many different charities that we are involved in helping. I have also worked tirelessly with women suffering from domestic violence, maybe I could send you a few of the articles I’ve written or the hundreds of emails I’ve received and replied to. Or maybe you would like to see photographic evidence of the Christmas boxes I make with my children for the church every year?
    You CANNOT assume that the people involved with this just saw a photograph of a dead boy on a beach and thought, right I think I’ll pull my finger out and do something.
    The excitement that our message trended on Twitter was an acknowledgement that we did what we set out to achieve so yes it was a massive ‘whohoo’ but have you considered the amount of work it took to get it trending on Twitter? The amount of work to coordinate everyone and make sure everyone knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing and when. Did you consider that there were real people sat the other side of a computer exhausted, with other work commitments but determined to make this work in 24 hours. Did you know I stayed up until 4am and then worked on this for 12 hours straight on my birthday, I didn’t even have time to go out and have a birthday meal as planned with my family. How incredibly selfish and narcissistic of me. Oh the things i’ll do to get a hashtag trending on Twitter, eh?
    How dare you suggest that our campaign was ''disingenuous, morally repugnant, and incredibly narcissistic’’ you don’t know me, but yet you feel the need to shout all about my actions all over your blog. You may not agree with using a picture of a child or what the words said and that is up to you, but to call it morally repugnant, really? Narcissistic, REALLY?
    When you spat those words out with such venom did you consider that I might read them, that others involved in the campaign might read them? Did you smile to yourself and hope we would? So that we would would know exactly just how abhorrent you find us all. Does it make you feel good that I’ve read this and it’s made me feel dreadful, that someone can actually sit and type these words about me, about my friends. What a mean person you are. I actually feel sorry for you that you don’t see the good in others. To assume that I/we started off this campaign for vanity, for selfish reasons is just about the worst insult I’ve ever had in my entire life. Perhaps you should have a little think about the real people you are insulting the next time you launch an attack and a rant on your blog, but sadly I think you just don’t care, because that’s just the type of person you are. Do you know what, I can walk with my head held high and be incredibly proud of what we all achieved because together we have spread our message across the world, we have raised awareness. We have raised THOUSANDS of pounds. What did you do?

    1. I am sorry this has upset you and, to be honest, I had no idea where this campaign had started or who had decided to do it, so I have no opinion on you or your choices or beliefs, Amy. I am sorry you feel the need to make so many (erroneous) judgements about me.

      Thank you for listing them, but I have no desire to know about your charity actions, which is one of the points I made in the article. Many, many people act selflessly and tirelessly every day of their lives campaigning, fundraising and trying to change the world, hardly any of them shout about it or photograph every donation for Facebook. But, as I said, I do not doubt the motivations of anyone who took part in your campaign, or your motivation in orchestrating it.

      However, I stand by my comment that taking pictures of safe, well-fed, comfortably-off western children with the disingenuous statement 'it could have been me' was morally wrong and, yes, somewhat narcissistic. That is my, and many others, opinion, to which we are entitled. No, it could not have been those children because they had the good fortune to be born where they were and to have a comfortable life. To compare them to refugee children is, in my opinion, wrong.

      I would also like to point out that I made many points in my article, your campaign being a small part of it. My main point was that people should be getting on and DOING more, on top of donating, and that a photo of their child + a photo of their donation (financial and/or practical) was making the campaign about them, not about who it should have been about. That. alas, is the nature of our social media-centric society. It's called a meme for a reason.

  4. But it’s ok for you to make erroneous judgements about me, in your article? Just because I was faceless when you wrote this doesn’t mean it’s ok to go around making accusations that we got our campaign trending on Twitter under the 'guise of caring’ I don’t understand how you could even think that.

    The image were intended to be emotive and the point was that any of us could have been in that situation had we been born in the ‘wrong’ country, much as the second a day video you might have seen ‘what if Surry were Syria’. There were a few people that weren’t comfortable with using images of their children and that is absolutely fine and I fully respect that. I respect their right to an opinion on the matter as I respect yours and you are entitled to it. There were many other ways to join in though...

    The important thing is that we did something, you can argue the whys and wherefores all you like. The fact remains we are a large group of social influencers and we have made a difference.

    I appreciate you made many other points in your article but your sensationalist headline says to me that your article was mostly about expressing your disapproval at our campaign this weekend and you obviously felt the need to voice that in the most damaging way possible.

    Just so you know I would never go out of my way to upset or annoy anyone. As the person that initiated this campaign the backlash has been dreadful, mainly from Britain First supporters who have been particularly vile. So I have had it in the neck from all angles, with reading this today I it has just about finished me off. That said, I don’t regret any of it and I am glad that I played a part in organising it all. It is a shame that you can not see that our actions were not selfish, disrespectful or disingenuous and that we were just trying to help, however we could.

    1. I think you'll find I was very careful NOT to make any personal judgements abut you or those who took part in your campaign, because I have none. As I said in the article, people's motivation was never in doubt in my mind. I am glad people now care, I'm glad they are donating, I'm glad they are finally aware. Questioning the wisdom of your way of drawing awareness is not a personal criticism of you, just as your questioning my opinion and what I have written is not taken by me as criticism of me as a person.

      To extrapolate that to assume I wrote to hurt you or others, to call me venomous, and then write this of me IS personal:

      "What a mean person you are. I actually feel sorry for you that you don’t see the good in others. ... Perhaps you should have a little think about the real people you are insulting the next time you launch an attack and a rant on your blog, but sadly I think you just don’t care, because that’s just the type of person you are."

      My comments were more about the people who gleefully shared that photo over and over again on Thursday and Friday which, as photographer Patricia Holland wrote about another crisis, almost re-confirms our safe, western comfortableness. It was about this phenomenon that I wrote "I care more than you care became the name of the game" which you have taken out of context (in the article above it appears before any mention of your campaign).

      It was the ice bucket challenge all over again, social media style over real make a difference substance. Remember the people wasting all that water and then donating to Water Aid? The irony was entirely lost on them.

      The way that photo was treated, without any consideration of his family's wishes, was abysmal. To me, the photo campaign you orchestrated added to that disrespect and almost trivialised it. Again, my opinion. But as I have said repeatedly, you thought you were doing good and indeed as you say, many people have donated off the back of that. Great. But I hope people have signed up to make regular donations, not just one offs.

      You are rightly proud to have made a difference, of course.

      For me, the campaign did not sit right. I did not think it appropriate, for the many reasons previously stated.

      As for the headline, the title I chose actually referred to the photos people were posting of their donations, financial and material. It seemed to have become about showing everyone what you were doing as a means of self-validation, as much of social media is, as much as about having actually done it.

      As for the abuse, I get that most days, certainly every time I post anything political or challenging. It;'s evil, yes, but this article was never intended to be a pat of that. Your motivation in trying to make a difference was never in doubt.

      If anything, I am relieved that the tide finally changed last week, after a long campaign by many of us to get anyone else to give a shit. Now we just have to convince the government to do the same, as I said in the article. Action needs to be targeted where it matters now, not to your friends and family on Facebook. If more people got political the world would be a far better place. Sadly, that seems to be lacking in the social media and blogging world (see article below).

      I'm afraid politicians and big business don't care about hashtags! REAL sustained action is what's needed, from all of us.


    2. Amy, your campaign seems to have directly influenced (shamed) David Cameron into actually doing something. And that's all that matters.

      This kind of blog post is par for the course.

      It doesn't matter the motivation of the people who click and share, it's the end result. Yes it was horrid to see the photo, but I totally agree, it was justified and necessary.

    3. Dolly1, you seem to have misunderstood several points here.

      Amy had nothing to do with sharing Aylan Kurdi’s photo last Thursday, which was the catalyst for Cameron’s limited action, although more limited plans were already afoot earlier in the week. Labour politicians, charities and political campaigners have been lobbying for action for years.

      However, I digress. Once everyone was already well aware of the crisis, on Saturday Amy orchestrated a campaign which involved people, mostly bloggers, taking pictures of their own comfortably off, well-fed, safe children hold a placard saying ‘it could have been me’. It could not, ever, have ‘been them’ and to compare the two is morally repugnant, in my opinion.

      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 Independent’s 14 million strong petition and asking everyone you know to do the same, smacks of vanity project to me.

      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 even more shocking photos. Last week, the zeitgeist changed due to the photos of Aylan.

      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 blog post. Somehow Amy has made this whole article about her. It is not. Maybe narcissism was the right word after all.

      As for Cameron’s action, that is just laughable. 20,000 people over 5 years?! The Kindertransport rescued half that in 9 months. With these refugees no subterfuge is necessary, it should be being done now. No, actually, it should have already happened.

      Oh and the refugees we do take will only be allowed to remain for 5 years anyway!


      As for your comment “This kind of blog post is par for the course.” Well, words fail me. One that gives people more information on the crisis? One that states the opinion of the writer? One that questions the motivations of people who feel it as or more important to post on Facebook, than to damn well get on and do something? Yeah, terrible.
      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. Disagree with me? Fine. Engage in rational debate? Great. But at the end of it my opinion will still be my opinion, and as I have said many times before, you are welcome to stop reading.

    4. This 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 last night.

      Sign the petition:


      Read the news stories:





      Write to your MP. Join charities campaign boards. Create direct debits, don’t sit smugly by with a photo of your kid holding a placard and a Facebook status showing how much you donated.


  5. Ok Leta, you obviously have no idea how much offence you have caused. I have been told by others that you enjoy stirring up debate so maybe I shouldn’t take it so personally.

    Just an observation: you don’t think it’s proper for people to advertise when they are charitable, you find it vain and indicative of seeking self-validation. Maybe you should remove the statement in your footer, the one about giving 50% of your affiliate earnings to charity and just keep quiet about it. By having it there on the front page of your blog serves no purpose other than to let people know that you are charitable yet you have chastised others for doing similar, you must be the exception to your rule.

    1. Oh dear. I have no idea who you talk to, but perhaps it is some of the many bloggers who have sent me vile and abusive e-mails and messages in the past, or turned their backs on me at events, or forced me to sit on the pavement to feed my baby because there was 'no room'. Well good luck to that little gang.

      I don't 'enjoy stirring up debate' but I do have opinions, which I will express as and when I see fit. They may not be the same as your's or your friends', but I shall still have them. Unfortunately there are a lot of bloggers out there who feel so intimidated by the blogging cliques in this so-called 'supportive community' that they do not express their opinions publicly.

      Today I have received messages on social media and by e-mail from nearly 30 bloggers who were also disgusted by the self-serving photos, both of bloggers' children and screenshots of charity donations they saw at the weekend. Comments have included adjectives like 'nauseating', 'vain', 'obscene', 'disrespectful' and 'revolting'.

      Most also said, as I did, why did it happen last weekend when everyone knew anyway? Awareness was not needed then, making it a self-serving 'look at me giving my support' exercise. (As I have repeatedly said, time would have been better spent taking real action.)

      Yet these bloggers who also disagree with you and your friends, these adults, are so afraid of being attacked by other bloggers for their opinions, as I have been today, that they are afraid to say anything publicly. That is shameful. Perhaps you should take that back to your friends?

      The only offence on this page is the character assassination you have given me. I stand by my opinions on the incessant, offensive sharing of Aylan's photo last week; the offensive nature of your social media campaign; and the ensuing offensive sharing of screen captures showing what people have given to charity. All of those things offended me, and many others.

      In fact, an article about a real crisis in the world has been turned today into being about you. It was not about you. It was about the whole crisis, the history behind it, the contribution the west has made to the mess that is the Middle East today, the offensive branding of refugees and asylum seekers as 'economic migrants' and 'immigrants', and finally how the West has woken up to some of the problem. Only for it to have become a social media phenomenon latched on to by many as a means to show how much they care; a shaming indictment of modern life.

      Yet somehow that has now become all about you?!

      As for your final paragraph, you have chosen to extrapolate my comments about one series of supposedly charitable actions to apply it to all charitable action. This is also disingenuous and rather infantile. I tell my readers where my affiliate income goes, which many bloggers do not, because why should they click on my ads or affiliate links and not be told where their money goes?

      If you look at my Twitter account or Facebook page you will also see that I regularly share political and charitable calls to action, petitions to sign, letters to write etc etc. I do this because I choose to use the influence I have for good. If only others would do the same on a regular basis, not just when the zeitgeist blows in the right direction, what a world we could begin to create!

      But I'm afraid you will never find me photographing the thanks screen after a charitable donation and sharing it on social media.

      As I have said, repeatedly, I do not doubt your intention in creating that campaign, but I find it ill-considered, poorly conceived, and offensive. My opinion, echoed by many others afraid to speak out, is not going to be changed.

  6. I think Amy has said all there is to say but I will say this- our campaign DID use one of the already used hash tags, #SaveSyriasChildren, as we partnered up with Save The Children and used their text number too. The It Could Have Been Me was meant as a way to connect with other parents, as we ourselves are parent bloggers, so that they may realise how lucky they are but had they been born in another country it could well have been their child. By reminding them and giving them a text number we were able to raise thousands of pounds. That was all that was meant and unfortunately people have not seen the good intention but have chosen to criticise our actions . Such a shame.

    1. I have since learned that a specific SMS number was insisted on by the organisers of this campaign so they could keep track of their fundraising, which rather seems to back up any accusations of it being a vanity project!

      The gloating I saw was about the #Itcouldhavebeenme hashtag 'trending', not STC's original one.

      As I have said over and over and over again, making my lengthy blog post about your campaign, when it was only referred to in 8 sentences, also smacks VERY strongly of vanity project.

      Yesterday I said I did not doubt the motivations of those who took part. I still do not doubt their wish to help.

      However, the reaction I have received over the past couple of days from those who orchestrated this campaign has led me to seriously suspect THEIR motivation.

      My blog post was not about you, it was not about your campaign.

      The way it has been hijacked to be so is utterly deplorable.

  7. Gonna throw it out there, politics CAN be influenced by a #, they do use it, understand it and act on it more than and quicker than they do in written complaints. Social media is a massive political tool, don't underestimate it, large charities use it to make their voices heard for that exact reason.

    Whether you raise awareness 4,3,2,1 years ago or now, you're raising awareness. Don't just expect that people didn't understand this war and it's politics because they don't regularly post about it. This weekends campaign was never going to be everyone's cuppa but it was used well and worked wonders for save the children, who were incredibly grateful for so much love AND CASH. However I do agree about your point on showing your donation etc but each to their own. Let people feel like they're doing their bit, don't discourage them because it doesn't sit right with you. I personally hated the ice bucket shit and towards the end of the twatty thing I did get verbal with minions memes about it but was shot down with common sense from a friend I hold dear...

    'don't discourage those who regularly do nothing from doing their something, every little helps, vanity or no vanity, it works a treat for a cause that once was forgotten and if they feel like their helping let them, they may do it more.

    I do a lot for charity, it doesn't give me the right to belittle those who do less.

    Now, pass me the gin, you people are cra cra!

    1. I don't believe I have claimed that hashtags cannot influence politics. They have done so since the Obama campaign. What I said was that action would have been as effective, probably more effective, if bloggers had retweeted the already existent campaign material, perhaps with a comment on top.

      I also suggest that people seize the zeitgist to join in with ALL political action, as a cumulative effect will inevitably be more effective than campaigning on one medium. The cause was not forgotten, in fact it had just been 'discovered' by many, and I found the vanity actions that followed despicable.

      One of my lesser issues, amongst many, was with a self-serving campaign that was created, I believe, without sufficient consideration or respect. To compare well-fed, comfortable children with refugees is disingenuous at best, morally repugnant at worst.

      That opinion was a very small part of my article (8 sentences). An article that was then hijacked by the creators of the blogger photo campaign to be all about them. It was never about them, just like the Syria crisis isn't about them, just like the campaigning isn't about them.

      Everyone should be doing every single thing they can to make a difference, which is why I have listed and shared again and again and again how that might happen. 59.5 million people is what this is about, and sustained action is what is needed. Every single day.

    2. I don't want to be rude but you keep banging on about these well fed kids and that was the point. As it was pointed out to us all in several articles, these people are not cash poor, their country isn't either. They have smartphones which people were shocked about because they couldn't understand it, they're poor and struggling why do they have phones? Because they weren't poor and struggling before. The Syrian children are not exactly well fed in those camps, granted, but they keep reminding everyone that they're not poor, unfed and after money, they just want safety and a home. Those Syrian children were as happy and well fed as our kids before our illegal stamp on this war brought them to have to flee their homes because they were now burnt out shells. We do, as you say, have a moral duty to fix the wrongs that labour government caused for people over there, however the point of this campaign was that without that illegal stamp of approval and our incredible armed forces keeping us safe, THAT COULD HAVE BEEN US. We could be fleeing our shelled out houses. But we're not. We're onlookers to those who are and if people want to show them that they're thinking of them and support their fight, fucking let them.

      That campaign was set up with full respect. It might not be to your taste just like attachment parenting isn't to mine but to bring it to the forefront of people's attention is just disrespectful. I read your article and it was a brilliant read to start with, you're a very well educated woman, calling people out however few lines it was done with, is however not an opinion as such but a reader grabber. You knew you'd get a response and rattle some cages and so you posted it, that is what bloggers do. It's our job. I'm an opinionated bitch, I get my paws slapped regularly and if I'm honest I bloody love it. I don't do it on my blog however because I'm not that interested in page views and I can't be fucked to write the whole thing down. This is the most I've written in months.

      You called out the group makers as narcissistic and doing it for online presence, in a gist, but that is just what you did by airing your opinion online is it not? surely all bloggers are narcissists aren't we? It's all about us and getting us out there and whoring our keyboard skills and opinions to all that will give us a few quid or a fucking hoover. It's just ironic to say it if you think about it.

      Don't see this as an attack, it's just my opinion on a situation which people with different ideas disagree on, it's sad we can't do that without blog war 1346558 taking place.

      I still have gin left if you want some?

    3. Again, I mentioned that campaign briefly. In my opinion the nature of the campaign, but not the choice to campaign in itself, was wrong. The part that had truly appalled me was the social sharing of donation pages.

      I had no intention of 'calling anyone out' or making any of this about them. Any comments about that campaign were an aside to the real issue, which I discussed at length. It is actually the comments that have changed the focus to that campaign, led mainly by one of its creators.

      As I have also said elsewhere, the true cynical nature of the creation of that campaign, as revealed by some of the participants who, understandably, wish to remain anonymous, is even more shocking.

      I also 'banged on' about how safe and comfortable the western kids were, sat holding their placards on the sofa. If history had been different a 100 or more years ago, then yes, maybe it could have been them. But really it never could, could it? And such a disingenuous statement is actually quite revolting.

      I am opinionated yes, but narcissistic, no. Nor do I 'whore out my keyboard skills and opinions'; I do a job which keeps me at home with my children and puts food on the table.

      I agree that it is very sad that I can't express my opinion without being attacked, yes. And that so many others are hiding their true opinions for fear of the same.

    4. Somethings though are best left unsaid. Many didn't want to get involved because of your reasons but didn't write about it. Your Facebook share of your link said 'oh I'm at it again, I have an opinion, when will I learn' that is dangling a carrot over your few lines of text about it in-between your serious points. Of course they'd jump the bait. You could also have left it there, however you went on to write about how awful Amy is etc in a different post. Just leave it, if you wanted to not call people out. You knew what you were doing. Don't play the victim now it's not attractive.

      I'm not silencing your opinion. Nor is anybody else. Those who chose to keep quiet about theirs, that you pity so much, did so not out of fear but knowing they lose the moral high ground if they do so. I respect their opinions.

      Your knowledge and behaviour surrounding this war is beautiful and I wish many were like you and doing much more. But they're not. They're doing what they can and when they can. That is just as beautiful as your efforts just smaller

    5. My ironic 'oh I have an opinion, when will I learn' comment was because every time I say anything that isn't in line with the majority, this happens. People don't like difference, it's threatening.

      My original post was about so very much more than one campaign, it was an indictment of the kind of society we live in. Unfortunately, it was hijacked to be about a few individuals, hence the second post.

      On Saturday I paraphrased the lyrics of Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain', as a result of that, my original post was a critique of the crisis and an observation on how modern life is lived through social media.

      I do not pity anyone, I was merely commenting on the insights that have been shared with me over the past few days. I knew the 'supportive community' myth was just that, but I have still been shocked by many of the things I have been told privately this week.

      All of the people who have contacted me have said that they kept quiet because they were frightened to stand up to certain bloggers, and they have all praised me for doing so.

      As I have said, doing something, anything, at whatever stage, is better than doing nothing. But I would hope that is the beginning of doing more, hence my sharing the ways to do that.

  8. I personally didn't join in with the campaign but I applaud any action taken that raises both awareness and money for those who need it.


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